Jonathan Rea secured the second fastest time and a provisional front row start in the opening qualifying session of the Imola round of the World Superbike championship on his Pata Honda in overcast but dry
|Rea was right on Sykes’ tail at Imola today
Photo: Pata Honda
Despite suffering from electrical problems in this mornings session Rea finished a solid third position, 0.2s behind Sykes’ fastest time of 1.48.409. The Irishman then came out in the afternoon session and led for the opening ten minutes and was heavily challenged by Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes throughout the session. With just half a second covering the pair for the majority of the session, it was Sykes who finished ahead with Rea 0.112s off, setting a time of 1.47.330.
Rea said “It’s been a really positive day, even with some electronics dramas at the beginning of this morning’s session, which cost me some time. The laps we did today were all quality and I was working closely straight away with the electronics guys, getting a good base setting and gathering data. When I was comfortable, we put some runs together and it was just positive. We worked on trying to find grip at the end and so we spent the whole qualifying session on the same tyre, finding out what’s likely to happen in the latter stages of the race. Imola seems to have quite a different surface from other circuits and it’s good for tyre life and traction control interference, which is less here. Without getting too excited, I’m quite positive but we have to continue working tomorrow to fine-tune the bike. The pace is already quite fast, but we need to make sure we’re at least on the first two rows for Sunday.”
Pata Honda team-mate Leon Haslam struggled to keep up with the other riders at a muggy Imola, still suffering with the broken leg he sustained at Assen a month ago.
The 30 year old secured a faster time in this mornings session, finishing 7th fastest in FP1 just 0.853 off Sykes’ fastest time. However the Derbyshire rider struggled to keep this pace in the first qualifying session of the weekend, not using the right setting on his CBR1000RR. His time of 1.48.725 put him in 13th position this afternoon, 1.507 off the top time.
Haslam revealed “The muscles in my leg were a little sore at the beginning of the qualifying session so I eased my way into it, trying a few changes to the bike. But we basically went back nearly to where we were this morning and ended up running out of time. I went something like half a second faster than this morning, but I though we’d be a lot quicker than we actually were because this morning’s time was on a used hard tyre. This afternoon we used a softer, new tyre and the time didn’t come, while everyone else went a lot quicker. I felt we had a good base this morning and just went the wrong way this afternoon, so it was a bit of a wasted session really. But we learned from it and we’ll make the right steps tomorrow.”