Carlos Checa demonstrated the speed of the Althea Ducati around the tight, twisty Moscow Raceway by easily topping Superpole on Saturday. The new addition to the World Superbike calendar would appear tailor-made for the 1098R with all five making it into the top-16 shootout and Checa beating Superpole specialist Tom Sykes by a third of a second.

Checa is running out of time to defend his world championship with just eight races to overturn a 73.5 point deficit to Max Biaggi and the Spaniard is fully focused on leaving Russia with a maximum return.

“I’m extremely happy with today’s Superpole because this is where everything has to come together, my riding, the tyre, the bike; everything worked well and we were able to record the kind of time that we thought might be possible here. My first lap wasn’t great but the second was pretty clean, I made no mistakes and when I saw the time I knew it would be very hard to beat. It’s my first pole of the year, and doing it at this new track in Russia makes it even more special. The races are still to come of course, and my objective is to make a quick start and aim for the win, in the hope that conditions allow me to make two strong races.”

Sykes, who has confirmed this weekend that he will stay with Kawasaki for 2013, will hope to be Checa’s biggest threat but the Yorkshireman admitted he had no answer today.

“I am quite happy to be second in Superpole because this circuit has proven to be quite generous towards the vee configuration engines here. But, having said that Kawasaki have done a fantastic job. We have managed to build and keep building pace all week. For the races tomorrow we should be quite consistent. I am happy with my race package so it was just unfortunate today that the qualifying tyre gave us some small issues, so I had no answers for Carlos.”

The factory Aprilia in third is not that of Biaggi but Eugene Laverty after a sensational display from the Irishman. His teammate has a tough Sunday ahead of him from seventh of the grid with Leon Haslam and, crucially, Marco Melandri ahead of him, as well as Jonathan Rea.

Davide Giugliano missed a golden opportunity to challenge his teammate by crashing at the start of SP3, leaving him down in eighth, but the likes of Chaz Davies and Leon Camier would’ve been happy to make it that far after qualifying thirteenth and eighteenth.