The first practice and qualifying sessions of the eleventh round of the SBK World Championship took place today at the new Moscow Raceway. Team Althea’s Davide Giugliano and Carlos Checa wasted no time in getting to grips with the track, concluding first qualifying in first and second place respectively.
Two days ago, Althea Racing had a first taste of the track during a test day, and it was Althea man Checa who drew first blood, immediately at ease on the Russian track and recording the quickest time of the day (1m35.8). His team-mate Giugliano closed the test session in seventh position, with a best time of 1m36.7.
This morning, first practice was interrupted almost immediately when crashes for Baz and Camier meant a red flag and a thirty-minute break. Carlos and Davide then returned to the track and after just a few laps Carlos was up in second position behind Melandri. Davide made solid progress throughout the remainder of the session, especially in the final stages when he recorded a 1m36.3 that positioned him third overall.
Carlos finished in sixth place with a best time of 1m36.5. Afternoon qualifying took place in dry but cloudy conditions (air temperature 18 ̊C, track 22 ̊C). Althea’s riders continued to work well, demonstrating that they have great potential at this new track. During the first part of the session, Checa improved on his best time set in practice by over seven tenths, recording a 1m35.8 that put him in first place towards mid-session.
A few minutes later Giugliano moved in front of his team-mate thanks to an impressive flying lap of 1m35.0. The Italian rider’s time remained the quickest of the session and he therefore secured provisional pole, followed by Carlos who, in the final minutes, dropped his time by another few tenths to close with a best of 1m35.2 (half a second quicker than Guintoli, third).
Carlos Checa: “We’ve tried the tyres and are also working to adapt the setting of the bike because this track is different to the others, it has a unique character. We need to prepare the bike in a certain way and probably go with a set-up that we’ve not used before. In the end Davide and I were able to make some fast laps with the softer tyre; maybe through certain, slow sections of the track the Ducati has less trouble changing direction than the other bikes, I don’t know. But if we look at race pace, we’re all very close in terms of times. I’m happy for now, but there is more work to do, as in certain sections I think we can improve further.”
Davide Giugliano: “For now everything’s going well. I say ‘for now’ because a race weekend is long and hard and in Superbike, with all these great champions, you never know exactly how well you’re doing as everything can change from one session to the next. But I think that if you’re inside the top five or six it’s a good result at this level. I really like the track and, although I’m not 100% fit after Silverstone, the bike and my team are really helping me a lot here and I’m pleased with the work done so far. The important thing is to stay focused for Sunday’s races.”
TIMES (Qualifying): 1. Giugliano (Ducati) 1’35.0; 2. Checa (Ducati) 1’35.2; 3. Guintoli (Ducati) 1’35.7; 4. Melandri (BMW) 1’35.7; 5. Davies (Aprilia) 1’35.8; 6. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’35.9; 7. Zanetti (Ducati) 1’35.9; 8. Aoyama (Honda) 1’35.9
Source: Althea Racing
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