Jonathan Rea at Imola

Jonathan Rea at Imola

Jonathan Rea set the second-fastest time in this afternoon’s opening World Superbike qualifying session at Imola in Italy, just one tenth of a second off provisional pole sitter Tom Sykes.

The rain that had been forecast for today did not materialise and although the 45-minute session was run under an overcast sky it was on a dry Imola circuit.

Rea and his World Superbike rivals are preparing for Sunday’s two seventh-round championship races at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari and the 26-year-old from Northern Ireland lapped the iconic circuit in a time of 1m47.330s.

His Pata Honda team-mate, Leon Haslam, 30, was seventh fastest in this morning’s first free practice session at the 4.936km circuit, but went the wrong way with the settings on his CBR1000RR machine this afternoon and ended the day 13th fastest.

Jonathan Rea – P2, 1m47.330s

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.

Leon Haslam at Imola

Leon Haslam at Imola

Leon Haslam – P13, 1m48.725s

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.

Honda Racing at Imola Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator

Leon has more power in his leg now, which allows him to push the pegs more, but he had a tough day. The setting went in the wrong direction this afternoon and he lost some time, but we hope to find a better set-up for him to be able to produce a better pace tomorrow. Jonathan was in the top three all day and stayed with one tyre this afternoon, doing a lot of laps and improving his lap time. Besides Sykes, there was really nobody who could do that pace, so it was a good day for Jonathan.

2013 World Superbike championship, round seven – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy

First qualifying results:
1 Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki 1m47.218s
2 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Pata Honda 1m47.330s
3 Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Aprilia 1m47.619s
4 Ayrton Badovini (ITA) Ducati 1m47.674s
5 Davide Guigliano (ITA) Aprilia 1m47.704s
6 Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW 1m47.788s
13 Leon Haslam (GBR) Pata Honda 148.725s


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