Phillip Island (Australia), Sunday 26th February 2012: the first races of the 2012 World Superbike Championship took place this afternoon at the Australian track of Phillip Island and for Carlos Checa and the Althea Racing team it was a day of mixed fortunes; after a crash in race 1 Carlos bounced back, dominating race 2 on board his Ducati 1198 to win with an advantage of almost six seconds!
A solid performance also for rookie Davide Giugliano who earned his first championship points by closing the day’s races in ninth and thirteenth position respectively.
Checa, starting from third on the grid, was already second after the first corners, right behind Sykes. On the very next lap he was able to pass the Kawasaki rider to take the lead. Unfortunately he did not have the chance to conclude what would have been a great race due to a bad crash on the sixth lap; the Spanish rider lost the rear of his Ducati 1198, highsiding and finishing in the gravel. Although Carlos was unhurt, he was unable to rejoin the race.
Checa’s team-mate Giugliano made a good start, holding fourteenth position through the opening lap. After a few laps he was able to find a good rhythm, passing a couple of riders to position himself tenth by the seventh lap. Five laps from the end he passed Camier, and Aoyama in the final phase, to cross the line in ninth position, earning his first championship points of the season.
Race 2 –
From third position Carlos was again up in second place through the first corners. He battled for the lead with both Sykes and Rea, before securing command definitively on the fourth lap. Two laps later 2011 SBK champion Checa recorded the fastest lap of the race (1m32.8). By mid-race, he had an advantage of almost three seconds over Rea in second and in the final laps Carlos worked hard to increase his lead and assure himself of race victory! He crossed the line first, 5.7 seconds ahead of Biaggi, second.
Giugliano got away very quickly this time and was up into eighth position by the end of the first lap. He held that position, following Melandri closely for the first half of the race. Unfortunately, five laps from the end of the race, Davide began to suffer pain in his right arm which meant he couldn’t’ continue to push as he had been doing. Losing a few positions in the final minutes, the young Italian closed the race in thirteenth position, collecting three more championship points along the way.
At the end of the opening round, Checa lies in fourth position in the championship standings, with 25 points, while Giugliano’s 10 points place him twelfth. Ducati attained 41 points today and is thus second to Aprilia in the manufacturer’s classification.
“In race one I had the worst crash that I’ve ever had with the Ducati. I was under pressure and pushed a little too hard. It’s extremely difficult to find the exact limit with the bike, the track, and with myself and today I exceeded that limit and fell. The team made a fantastic job of preparing a bike that allowed me to win in race two. In that race, I started strong and when I saw that Max had gone off track, I pushed hard to get ahead and win the race. Max made a good recovery but I was able to maintain a strong pace and bring home what is a very important win for me and for the team.”
“Race 1 I used to gain experience, not knowing exactly how it would go. It went quite well and I was able to use what I learned in this race to go on the attack in the second. I started strong in the second race and was up with the front group. I was able to pass those a little slower than me and was, I think, seventh. I planned to race behind Melandri and Haslam and conserve the tyres as best I could and that seemed to be working but unfortunately, five laps from the end, I started to suffer pain in my left arm and had to slow down in the final laps. It was a pity because if it hadn’t been for that, I could have finished in the front group which wouldn’t have been at all bad! I have to solve this problem before Imola where I am sure I can do better.”
Genesio Bevilacqua, General Manager of Althea Racing:
“After the crash in race 1, we were worried that Carlos may be hurt but thankfully he wasn’t and was able to concentrate on the second race. I was disappointed to see that there are riders that can start from last position and finish second, while we are penalized with six extra kilos of weight. It will be hard to overcome this difficulty this season, even with a rider, a champion, of Carlos’ caliber.
As far as Davide is concerned, after completing his ‘apprenticeship’ in race 1, he was able to demonstrate his potential in the second race. We’re going to check his physical condition of course – it is worrying and we must sort that out. I want to underline though that he completed a race at a very high level, staying close to experienced riders such as Melandri and Haslam. Once we resolve any physical problems, we can be protagonists with Davide too.”
RESULTS: Race 1 – 1. Biaggi (Aprilia); 2. Melandri (BMW); 3. Guintoli (Ducati). Gara 2 – 1. Checa (Ducati); 2. Biaggi (Aprilia); 3. Sykes (Kawasaki)
CLASSIFICATION: Riders – 1. Biaggi (Aprilia) 45; 2. Melandri (BMW) 30; 3. Sykes (Kawasaki) 29; 4. Checa (Ducati) 25; 5. Rea (Honda) 22; 6. Guintoli (Ducati) 16; 7. Smrz (Ducati) 16; 8. Haslam (BMW) 15; 9. Aoyama (Honda) 15; 10. Berger (Ducati) 12; 11. Fabrizio (BMW) 10; 12. Giugliano (Ducati) 10... Manufacturers – Aprilia 45; Ducati 41; BMW 31; Kawasaki 29; Honda 22; Suzuki 4