Phillip Island (Australia), Monday 20th February 2012: having completed a three-day test session at the Phillip Island track only last week, team Althea Racing returned to the same circuit today for the final, official tests before the 2012 championship’s opening round gets underway this coming weekend.
In very warm conditions (air temperature 26˚C, track 50˚C in the afternoon), Althea Racing’s riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano took to the track this morning, ready to work with their technicians to make final preparations with their Ducati 1198 bikes. They worked mainly with the different tyres made available by Pirelli; the team wants to fully understand how the rubber behaves in these hot conditions, so as to be prepared if the track is at a similar temperature for this weekend’s races.
Although the team was therefore not focusing on lap times, Checa, current SBK world champion, projected himself to the top of the timesheets, recording the fastest time of the day, a 1m31.9, during the morning’s session. The Spanish rider put in 71 laps in total and was the only rider to duck under 1m32 today, despite the 6kgs of extra weight that the Ducati machines are carrying this year in accordance with championship regulations.
Checa’s new team-mate Giugliano continued to build up feeling with his Ducati while working with his squad to refine settings in readiness for his first SBK races of the 2012 season. He suffered a small crash in the afternoon session but returned to the track almost immediately; timing was unfortunate however as he fell just as his pace was beginning to pick up and so lost valuable time as a result. Making a total of 59 laps today, Davide recorded his best time during the morning, a 1m33.3, when the track was significantly cooler.
“I’m pretty happy. We’re still up there with the times, though it seems difficult to improve beyond that point. Today we continued to work on set-up, with the suspension and the electronics, trying to find the best compromise when it comes to performance. Tomorrow we still have a few small things to work on and we’ll look at the tyres again of course as tyre choice for this weekend’s races will be extremely important. So tomorrow we’ll get everything in line as much as possible and then our concentration turns to the first races of the season!”
“Unfortunately I crashed at the wrong moment this afternoon. If it hadn’t been for that, I believe I’d have been able to improve on my lap time. As a result of the crash we lost valuable time sorting the bike and so my best time was that set earlier in the day. Anyway I know I can do more tomorrow. I realise I have a lot to learn, in a short space of time, but I still have high hopes.”
Genesio Bevilacqua, General Manager of Althea Racing:
“I’m very happy with the work completed by the team today. We concentrated on minimizing the gap, considering the extra weight that the 2012 regulation has given us. Carlos, thanks to his expert knowledge of this track, seems to be able to hold his position at the top of the timesheets – today he has the fastest time with a small advantage over the competition. Davide is improving the feeling he has with his bike and hopes for a good day tomorrow and an improvement in his times. He seems happy with his bike’s potential. Tomorrow it should also be hotter and so we’ll have chance to test the tyres in preparation for a hot race day this coming Sunday.”
TIMES(day one): 1. Checa (Ducati) 1m31.9; 2. Biaggi (Aprilia) 1m32.2; 3. Melandri (BMW) 1m32.2; 4. Rea (Honda) 1m32.3; 5. Haslam (BMW) 1m32.3; 6. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1m32.4; 7. Guintoli (Ducati) 1’32m7; 8. Canepa (Ducati) 1m32.8; 9. Smrz (Ducati) 1m32.8; 10. Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1m33.0 … 14. Giugliano (Ducati) 1m33.3