Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa posted two great displays in practice and qualifying at Imola’s Superbike World Championship practice sessions on Friday, leading both and taking the overnight provisional pole at the penultimate round of the 2010 series.
Late drama arrived when flag signals indicating a fall of rain appeared in the last three minutes of the first qualifying session. Checa was eventually clearly ahead of his peers with a 1:48.178 lap, set in the afternoon’s qualifying session.
Second quickest rider, a winner last time out in Germany, was Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider Jonathan Rea, almost four-tenths off Checa.
Championship contender Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) battled to third, improving on his performance from free qualifying despite lingering injures from his big crash in Germany. He had a heavily strapped left knee to support his damaged knee ligament.
Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) was a firm fourth, his teammate Michel Fabrizio one place back.
Checa’s teammate Shane Byrne was fast at this bumpy and challenging circuit, going sixth, and heading up a high quality bunch of riders in the lower reaches of the top 10.
Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda team) was seventh, Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) went eighth, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) was ninth and Corser’s teammate Ruben Xaus was tenth.
To the surprise of most championship leader Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) was 14th, some 1.435 seconds behind the leading pace put in by Checa. Biaggi could not find the chassis settings he wanted on the first day and now will concentrate on making his bike set-up suit the bumpy and intense Imola layout.
In all, 22 riders made it into practice at Imola, despite the absence of Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) who is recuperating from an operation on his wrist.
Kenan Sofuoglu (HANNspree Ten Kate Honda) took provisional pole in the Supersport class with a 1:52.397 lap, in another session where rain showed itself for a short time.
Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) was second fastest, local rider and Sofuoglu’s teammate, Michele Pirro, was third.
The top Kawasaki rider first time out in Imola qualifying was Katsuaki Fujiwara (Kawasaki Motocard.com), fourth quickest and easing out top Triumph rider, Chaz Davies (ParkinGO BE1 Triumph).
Australian Broc Parkes, in his second race in this class in 2010, completed the top six on his Motocard.com Kawasaki.