FRUSTRATING WEEKEND FOR REA AT IMOLA BUT VOWS TO FIGHT BACK

Rea fights back after frustrating Imola weekend

Rea fights back after frustrating Imola weekend

Jonathan Rea took two top ten finishes in the weekend’s second round World Superbike championship races at Imola in Italy, both of which were won by Spain’s Carlos Checa.

Rea’s Honda World Superbike team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, continued his improvement on the CBR1000RR Fireblade and, in this afternoon’s opening 21-lap race, lapped almost one second faster than his qualifying time.

Aoyama fought his way up from 23rd on the grid to 11th place before grip problems dropped him back to 18th. Meanwhile, technical gremlins forced the Japanese rider out of contention in race two.

With cooler temperatures on race day, both riders opted for the softer rear tyre on offer but struggled for grip after the early laps. Rea opted for a harder tyre in race two, as well as some front end modifications to improve his feeling from the bike. However, some early tussles saw the 25-year-old from Northern Ireland drop to 14th place in the opening laps.

Higher grip levels and the improvements made by his crew to his machine allowed Rea to post much more competitive lap times as he fought his way back up to fifth place at the flag.

The Honda World Superbike Team duo will remain at Imola tomorrow for a one-day official test and then conduct a private two-day test at Assen in the Netherlands which will host round three of the championship on 22 April.

Jonathan Rea – 9th and 5th

Well, it finished better than it started, for sure. In the first race, we flat-out picked the wrong tyre – we didn’t do so much work on the hard tyre in the practices so we were reluctant to go with it. Also, this was the first big temperature change we’d had and it got very cold. But it’s been a bit of a frustrating weekend, to be honest, because our pace here last year was good enough for a win. Our pace this year is the same but there’s two or three guys at the front going faster. All in all, I’m happy to have points on the board in both races, and I’m really pleased with the way I rode in race two. I got messed up with my rhythm in the first laps when some guys put me out at the chicane, but I got my head down and got back to the group and I was able to get to the front of them comfortably at the end. I’m happy with my riding and happy that we have a test here tomorrow and then a two-day test at Assen to try and find the front feeling that I’ve been lacking.

Hiroshi Aoyama – 18th and DNF

It’s been a very difficult weekend for me. It was my first time racing at Imola and, of course, that doesn’t help to set up the bike but, anyhow, we set out to try and find a good feeling. We couldn’t really find one but, in the first race, my pace was not too bad so we could catch up to twelfth position. Starting from 23rd position, that wasn’t so bad. But then the tyre started to drop and I started missing some gears and we ended up in a not very good position. For the second race we changed the engine and we expected a better result. Feeling-wise, it wasn’t so bad, but from the middle of the race, the engine started to slow a little bit and, in the end, it stopped. So, it was not really a happy weekend, but for the next race at Assen I know the track a little bit so I hope we can have a better weekend.

Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator

It’s not been quite what we expected but, considering Jonathan’s crash yesterday, race two especially was a pretty good performance. In race one, with both riders, we had some tyre choice problems. We hoped the new tyre would work in the cooler conditions but it didn’t. In race two, we made a small modification to the front for Jonathan and went with another tyre. He got a little bit caught in a group at the start but from mid-race to the end he showed a really strong performance. Considering his physical condition, we were happy with that. With Hiroshi, race one gave some tyre problems but he improved nine tenths on his qualifying time. In race two he stayed with the same tyre but we’re still in the process of finding a base setting for him. We made another small change and he felt quite good on the bike but then he got a technical problem.

2012 World Superbike championship, round two

Imola, Italy – 4.936km, 21 laps

Race 1 results:

1 Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati 38m06.264s

2 Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki +3.206s

3 Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW +5.593s

4 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia +6.519s

5 Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia +24.662s

6 Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW +27.261s

9 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike Team +34.067s

18 Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda World Superbike Team +1’06.233s

Race 2 results:

1 Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati 37m57.571s

2 Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki +1.935s

3 Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW +2.969s

4 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia +3.346s

5 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike Team +18.925s

6 Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia +21.180s

Championship points after two of 14 rounds:

1 Checa 75, 2 Biaggi 71, 3 Sykes 69, 4 Haslam 47, 5 Melandri 46, 6 Rea 40

Next round: Assen, Netherlands – 20-22 April

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