Carlos keeps the rest in check with Superpole in Australia
CARLOS Checa was back at the top this morning after winning the first Tissot-Superpole of the 2013 season at Phillip Island.
As the FIM World Superbike Championship fired up for the new season, it was the Spaniard who emerged man to beat as he took the new Ducati Team Alstare Panigale to the top of the timesheets with a hot lap of 1.30:234.
Eugene Laverty was second fastest as he kicked off his second season with Aprilia factory squad, while third on the grid for Sunday's races is Michel Fabrizio on the Red Devils Roma Aprilia.
The opening Superpole of the season brought with it a host of changes to the format. Under the new regulations 15 machines now take part in Superpole One, with three dropping out at the end of the session and 12 going into SP2.
From SP2 the top nine now go through to fight it out for the top spot, and as of this season the races will follow their MotoGP counterparts with grids of three bikes on each row instead of the traditional four.
With the final nine all desperate to land one of the three coveted front row spots, it was to be a last minute dash as Checa headed out with just a few minutes to run on a new Superpole tyre.
Putting a massive Friday crash behind him, Checa's fast lap took him straight to pole, and it was time to play the waiting game to see if anyone else could better it as the flag fell.
With most of the big names still on track, each one crossed the line well under Checa's time, and it was only last man home Laverty who got within shouting distance as he clocked the second fastest lap, just 0.195 seconds adrift of the Spaniard's time.
"Winning Superpole was a great surprise for me and is down to all the hard work put in by
my mechanics, the physiotherapists and the rest of the Clinica Mobile medical staff," he said.
"This morning, I felt pain in both my shoulder and foot and I really didn't think I'd be competitive in qualifying and Superpole. The mechanics did a great job and made the bike easier for me to ride and by the time Superpole started this afternoon, I felt pretty good really - better than I thought I would!
"Today was good, but we'll have to see how the bike is in race conditions and also how the tyres perform after a lot of laps. Hopefully we'll be competitive tomorrow and can be in the mix at the end of the race."
Meanwhile in World Supersport qualifying, it was Brit Sam Lowes who powered himself to the top spot.
The Lincolnshire rider clocked a 1.32: 545 on his Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha to take the top spot.
He will be joined on the front row by the Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki duo of Kenan Sofuoglu and Fabien Foret.