Sunday, April 1

REAS' HOPES DASHED



Jonathan Rea will start Sunday’s two World Superbike Championship races at Imola in Italy from the second row of the grid after setting the seventh fastest time in Saturday afternoon’s Superpole qualifying sessions.

Pole position was taken by British rider Tom Sykes as Rea and his Honda Racing World Superbike Team continued to seek an optimum setting for his Honda CBR1000RR around the fast, undulating 4.936km Imola circuit.

Rea was forced to use one of his two qualifying tyres in Superpole 1 when it looked as though his first lap time might not be enough. Consequently, having progressed from Superpole 2 comfortably, the 25-year-old Northern Irishman went into the final session on race tyres.

Rea suffered a big highside crash in the last few moments of Superpole 3 but was able to walk away unhurt and continue his preparation for tomorrow’s two 21-lap races.

His Honda World Superbike team-mate, Hirosh Aoyama, did not qualifying for Superpole, despite significantly improving his time from yesterday. The Japanese rider will start Sunday’s races from the sixth row of the grid.

Jonathan Rea – P7 1m 47.643s
"It’s been a bit frustrating today because it seems that we’ve improved the pace from last year, but the pace to win the race is now much faster.

"Pirelli has brought a new tyre which is bringing some more time, but, for me, I’m a little surprised that we’re not as competitive as we’d hoped. For Superpole we made quite a good change to the bike but I got caught out with a crash at the end when I put a race tyre back in the bike. I had quite a good split and, yeah, just used a few per cent more gas out of turn five and had a big highside, so I think I’m quite lucky to escape without injury. The bike’s working OK, but it’s quite hard to know what the race pace is going to be because quite a few riders have been working on different strategies with tyres. Second row is not so bad, though – I’ll just try to get a good start and go with the front guys tomorrow.

Hiroshi Aoyama – P23 1m 50.670s
"It’s been a difficult day for me. We improved things a little bit but it was not enough – we needed to find about two seconds but we still have some work to do. We have quite a lot of different problems so it’s difficult for me to put all the sectors together for one good lap. I don’t know the track so well and, of course, I am still learning the bike. Our main problem is stability under braking and getting the bike stopped. We’ll try to get the bike a little more calm and under control for warm-up because the movement under braking is affecting the whole lap."

Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator
"I think we made some good steps on Jonathan’s side today, but a lot of other guys are quite fast too. We worked on the feeling with the front – changing springs and ride height. We’re a bit quicker than last year but need to find a little bit more. We’re still on the second row, though, and it seems Jonathan is OK after his big crash, so we’ll try to race with the fast guys tomorrow. With Hiroshi we’re playing too much catch-up. He’s new to the bike and new to the track, but we’re still making steps. He’s found nearly two seconds today but everyone else is getting faster too. He missed out on Superpole but we have an idea to give him a better bike for warm-up and we saw in Phillip Island that he can fight his way forward, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings."

2012 World Superbike championship - round two , Imola, Italy, Final qualifying (Superpole) results:1 Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki 1m 46.748s
2 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati 1m47.221s
3 Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati 1m47.423s
4 Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW 1m47.458s
5 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 1m47.611s
6 Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW 1m47.642s
7 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike Team 1m47.643s
8 Joan Lascorz (ESP) Kawasaki 1m47.740
23 Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda World Superbike Team 1m50.670s