Checa inaugurates Moscow Raceway
Carlos Checa topped timesheets to become the first World Superbike Championship rider to head a session around the brand-new Moscow Raceway, scene of this weekend's 11th round of the season.
Ahead of the series' first event to be held in Russia, the riders have been given the chance to acclimatise to the 2.4 mile circuit with four hours of track time two days before the round officially begins.
Unsurprisingly, lap times tumbled as the riders adapted to the twists and turns of the new venue, but while several riders would take it in turns to top of the leaderboard over the course of the 2 hour session, it was Checa who would emerge fastest with his lap of 1min 37.189secs, a comfortable two tenths quicker than Leon Haslam on the BMW.
He was in turn one tenth quicker than the session's unexpected front runner Hiroshi Aoyama, the Honda WSBK rider leaping from towards the bottom of the timesheets to post a late lap good enough for third fastest overall.
Kawasaki's Tom Sykes was one of the riders to go top for a time before slipping back to fourth, while Jonathan Rea completed Honda's encouraging start to the week by joining his team-mate in the top five.
Despite a crash, Davide Giugliano's complemented Checa's performance in sixth aboard the second of the Althea Ducatis, ahead of BMW duo Marco Melandri and Michel Fabrizio, while championship leader Max Biaggi opened up his Moscow campaign in a solid ninth.
John Hopkins ensured all six manufacturers would be represented inside the top ten in tenth, just edging out Chaz Davies, Leon Camier and Niccolo Canepa, the latter doing an impressive job to be 13th best having crashed within ten minutes of the session starting - prompting a red flag period - and only returning in the final 20 minutes.
Eugene Laverty was another to suffer a fall at turn three as he settled for 14th, while Silverstone race winners Loris Baz and Sylvain Guintoli endured an indifferent return to action in 15th and 18th, the latter managing just six laps before an infringement caused him to be excluded from the session entirely.
Elsewhere, Pedercini Kawasaki's new riders for the weekend, Alexander Lundh and David McFadden, made decent progress over the course of the session on the way to 19th and 21st respectively.