Carlos Checa admits he has a fight on his hands to protect his championship lead after only qualifying in 11th place at Monza.

The Ducati 1098R lacked pace on the high speed circuit with Checa very nearly dropping out of Superpole in the very first session. The Althea Racing rider was only 0.089s quicker than Joan Lascorz but that was only a temporary reprieve, as he couldn't get into the top eight in Superpole 2.

The Spaniard's best time of 1:43.116 left him 0.245s adrift of Noriyuki Haga and forced to settle for a place on the third row of the grid.

Whilst maintaining that he won't give up, Checa admitted that the Althea squad are lacking pace around the Italian circuit and Sunday may be a damage limitation exercise.

“It's not easy here for us. We know that we are lacking some speed but tomorrow I think that if I can improve through the first sector we can defend ourselves well. Of course it wouldn't be very realistic to think we can reach the podium but I am confident that we can stay with the front group and we'll try to take the best possible results. It's hard to say how we'll finish but I'll do my best as always and we'll see.”

Checa leads the championship by 43 points ahead of Max Biaggi, who put the Alitalia Aprilia on pole position ahead of Eugene Laverty, Jonathan Rea and Troy Corser. Marco Melandri is another rider who will look to make inroads into Checa's points advantage, the Yamaha rider will line up in fifth.