On final day of Phillip Island testing
Michel Fabrizio powered his Ducati 1098R to the top slot on the final day of pre-season testing at Phillip Island, the venue for next weekend's opening round of the 2009 championship.
The 24 year-old from Rome lapped in 1 minute
32.19 seconds, just three-tenths away from the Australian circuit's outright record of 1'31"826, set by Troy Corser (Yamaha) in 2007, and four-tenths of a second quicker than Troy Bayliss's 2008 fastest race lap.
The Italian twin-cylinder machine also went well in the hands of Noriyuki Haga, who ended the day second quickest with a time of 1'32"30. After his lap, Haga then fell at the same Turn 2 where he crashed yesterday.
Yamaha's new signing Ben Spies made a big step forward, the Texan setting an excellent time of 1'32"36 on a track he experienced for the first time yesterday.
Suzuki Alstare took one step backwards, with Saturday's pace-setter Max Neukirchner unable to go any quicker than 1'33"03, while team-mate Yukio Kagayama was four-tenths slower than yesterday's pace. The Suzukis were struggling with rapid tyre wear and the team engineers had to concentrate on set-up to try and resolve the problem in view of next Sunday's two 22-lap races.
BMW managed to dip below the 1'33" mark, Troy Corser setting a respectable time of 1'32"93 before being forced to stop due to a not uncommon occurrence at this circuit, a collision with a seagull. The Australian suffered a nasty blow on his right arm, which kept him out of action for the afternoon session.
Earlier on in the week Max Biaggi had lapped in 1'32"59 on his Aprilia RSV4: the Italian machine, which is the other major new entry in 2009 together with BMW, could be on the pace right away come next weekend.
Carlos Checa (Honda Ten Kate) had to miss the final day of testing after suffering concussion in his crash at the hairpin on Saturday.
Sunday also saw crashes for Jonathan Rea (Honda Ten Kate) and Tom Sykes (Yamaha), but neither rider suffered any consequences and both will be at full strength for next Friday's opening practice sessions.
In Supersport the quickest time was set by 2007 champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Honda) ahead of Garry McCoy with the increasingly competitive three-cylinder Triumph 675: the Australian also crashed out, but without problems.
Overall times (unofficial):
Superbike - 1. Fabrizio (Ducati) 1'32"19; 2. Haga (Ducati) 1'32"30; 3. Spies (Yamaha) 1'32"36; 4. Neukirchner (Suzuki) 1'32"59; 5. Kagayama (Suzuki) 1'32"78; 6. Corser (BMW) 1'32"93; 7. Rea (Honda) 1'32"96; 8. Sykes (Yamaha) 1'33"10; 9. Xaus (BMW) 1'33"53.
Supersport - 1.Sofuoglu (Honda) 1'34"7; 2. McCoy (Triumph) 1'34"8; 3. Pitt (Honda) 1'34"8; 4. Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1'35"3; 5. Foret (Yamaha) 1'35"8; 6. Nannelli (Triumph) 1'36"3; 7. Pradita (Yamaha) 1'37"3.