Carlos Checa apologised to his Alstare Ducati team after a heavy crash on Friday morning triggered a frantic repair job. The Spaniard was among the pre-weekend favourites after topping the testing times but suffered a highside during first practice, causing significant damage to the new Panigale 1199R and minor injuries to himself.
Checa recovered to finish twelfth in the afternoon, putting him inside the cut-off point for Superpole, and hopes to get back to improving the new motorcycle tomorrow.
“I was looking forward to today and improving the bike after the official tests, but things didn’t turn out how I wanted. This morning, after only seven laps, I crashed exiting Siberia. It was one of the biggest highsides of my career and I think I went up a long way before hitting the track. I was lucky not to break anything but I hurt my left shoulder and my right foot, which is a bit of a problem because I use the rear brake quite a bit. The crash ended the session for me, but fortunately I was able to get out in the afternoon, put in some laps and get a time. Once again, I completed seven laps and ended 12th fastest overall. It was a shame because, up until the crash, we had been heading in the right direction with the bike once more. We’d changed the set-up just before the crash, but we’ll have to look at the telemetry before we draw any conclusions. In the afternoon we went back to the original set-up – the one we’d used in testing – to make sure of a decent lap time. I’m sorry for all the work I’ve caused the mechanics, but hopefully I will feel better tomorrow morning and we can get back to improving the bike.”
Teammate Ayrton Badovini is in much greater danger as far as Superpole is concerned after crashing himself, adding to his heavy fall in testing. The Italian is outside the Superpole places in sixteenth heading into tomorrow’s second qualifying session and admits the succession of crashes have taken their toll.
“The last thing I wanted today was another crash, but that’s what happened! I banged my right foot and later, when I took my leathers off, the ankle was pretty swollen. Before the crash, which happened at the last corner (so it was pretty fast!), I could manage the left turns OK, but the right-handers were causing me some problems. I was finding it difficult to push hard in the right turns. So, if we can improve the set-up of the bike for right-handers, it will make my job a bit easier. At the moment I feel a bit destroyed, but I’m sure I will feel better after a good night’s sleep and some massages.”