Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa posted two great displays in practice and qualifying at Imola, leading both and taking the overnight provisional pole at the intense Imola circuit. 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 team-mate Michel Fabrizio one place back.
Checa’s team-mate 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 ten. Cal Crutchlow Yamaha Sterilgarda team) was seventh, Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) went eighth, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) was ninth and Corser’s team-mate 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.
Times: 1.Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1’48.178; 2.Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1’48.558; 3. Haslam L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’48.621; 4.Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1098R 1’48.660; 5. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’48.667; 6. Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R 1’48.752; 7.Crutchlow C. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’48.813; 8.Corser T. (AUS) BMW S1000 RR 1’48.851; 9. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX 10R 1’48.970; 10. Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 1’49.224; 11.Lanzi L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’49.275; 12.Toseland J. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 1’49.528; 13.Guintoli S. (FRA) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’49.560; 14.Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’49.613; 15.Neukirchner M. (GER) Honda CBR1000RR 1’49.622; 16.Smrz J. (CZE) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’49.659; etc.
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 team-mate, 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). Broc Parkes, in his second race in this class in 2010, completed the top six on his Motocard.com Kawasaki.
Times: 1. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Honda CBR600RR 1’52.397; 2. Laverty E. (IRL) Honda CBR600RR 1’53.279; 3. Pirro M. (ITA) Honda CBR600RR 1’53.333; 4. Fujiwara K. (JPN) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’53.541; 5. Davies C. (GBR) Triumph Daytona 675 1’53.723; 6. Parkes B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’53.798; 7. Roccoli M. (ITA) Honda CBR600RR 1’53.867; 8. Aitchison M. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 1’53.981; etc.
Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Junior Superstock) posted a lap time of 1’51.528 to head up the first qualifying session, the next closest rider being Lorenzo Zanetti (SS Lazio Motorsport Ducati), almost a second behind. Maxime Berger, from the Ten Kate Race Junior Honda Team) scored third best time. Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini Honda) was a close fourth, right behind Zanetti and Berger. Sylvain Barrier (Garnier Junior Team BMW) was fifth.
Times: 1. Badovini A. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1’51.528; 2. Zanetti L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’52.525; 3. Berger M. (FRA) Honda CBR1000RR 1’52.693; 4. Antonelli A. (ITA) Honda CBR1000RR 1’52.722; 5. Barrier S. (FRA) BMW S1000 RR 1’53.273; 6. Baroni L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’53.382; 7. Giugliano D. (ITA) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 1’53.494; 8. La Marra E. (ITA) Honda CBR1000RR 1’53.735; etc.
Local man Giuliano Gregorini (Elle2Promotion Yamaha) took provisional pole in the smaller Superstock class, holding onto his advantage despite a late charge from other leading riders. Second was another wildcard runner, Fabio Massei (Moto Club Piellemoto), from Championship chaser, Florian Marino (Ten Kate Race Junior Honda). Argentinean rider Leandro Denis Mercado (BWG Racing) Kawasaki ZX-6R finished the top four places, with championship leader Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Racing Yamaha fifth), with one more qualifying session to go.
Times: 1. Gregorini G. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’56.518; 2. Massei F. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’56.736; 3. Marino F. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 1’57.518; 4. Mercado L. (ARG) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’57.718; 5. Guarnoni J. (FRA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’58.045; 6. Russo R. (ITA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’58.217; 7. Egea S. (FRA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’58.627; 8. Lanusse R. (FRA) Yamaha YZF R6 1’58.710; etc.