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Checa stays top as official testing begins

“We’re still up there with the times, though it seems difficult to improve beyond that point” – Carlos Checa.

Fastest during last week's unofficial Phillip Island tests, reigning World Superbike champion Carlos Checa remained at the top during Monday's opening day of official tests ahead of this weekend's season-opening race.

The main priority for Checa and the Althea Ducati team was on maximising performance from the 2012 race tyres.

The Spaniard put in 71 Monday laps and was the only rider to duck under 1min 32sec, leaving him 0.3sec faster than Aprilia's former champion Max Biaggi.

"I'm pretty happy," said Checa, winner of both 'Island races last season. "We're still up there with the times, though it seems difficult to improve beyond that point.

"Today we continued to work on set-up, with the suspension and the electronics, trying to find the best compromise when it comes to performance."

The second and final day of official testing will be held on Tuesday.

"Tomorrow we still have a few small things to work on and we'll look at the tyres again of course as tyre choice for this weekend's races will be extremely important," said Checa.

"So tomorrow we'll get everything in line as much as possible and then our concentration turns to the first races of the season!"

All Ducati riders are carrying an extra 6kg this year, following revised rules balancing the performance of the 1200cc twins and 1000cc four-cylinders.

"I'm very happy with the work completed by the team today," stated Althea general manager Genesio Bevilacqua. "We concentrated on minimizing the gap, considering the extra weight that the 2012 regulation has given us.

"Carlos, thanks to his expert knowledge of this track, seems to be able to hold his position at the top of the timesheets - today he has the fastest time with a small advantage over the competition."

Checa's new team-mate Davide Giugliano suffered a small crash on his way to 14th place.

"Unfortunately I crashed at the wrong moment this afternoon," he said. "If it hadn't been for that, I believe I'd have been able to improve on my lap time. As a result of the crash we lost valuable time sorting the bike and so my best time was that set earlier in the day. Anyway I know I can do more tomorrow. I realise I have a lot to learn, in a short space of time, but I still have high hopes."

"Davide is improving the feeling he has with his bike and hopes for a good day tomorrow and an improvement in his times. He seems happy with his bike's potential," added Bevilacqua. "Tomorrow it should also be hotter and so we'll have chance to test the tyres in preparation for a hot race day this coming Sunday.

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