TOUGH DAY IN SPANISH SUN

Jonathan Rea finished 14th fastest in today’s opening qualifying session for round eight of the 2012 World Superbike championship at Motorland Aragon in Spain. His Honda World Superbike team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, was 18th quickest as Italian Marco Melandri led the way to provisional pole position.

With the track surface nudging 60°C and air temperatures close to 40, it was hot work for all riders as Rea, who missed the inaugural race here last season, set about learning the undulating 5.344km Aragon circuit. The 25-year-old was happy enough with progress in this morning’s free practice session but a technical problem limited his qualifying this afternoon to just eight laps. With the new-for-2012 one-bike rule in force, Rea spent much of the session able to do nothing more than watch his rivals.

For Aoyama, a combination of set-up issues restricted his progress, but the 30-year-old Japanese is confident of an improvement in tomorrow morning’s second qualifying session, which will determine the top 16 riders who progress to Superpole.

Jonathan Rea – P14 2m00.617s It’s been quite a difficult day and, to be honest, I didn’t really have a clue where I was going this morning, so I felt a bit like a novice. I was up to speed this afternoon, though, and was comfortable hovering inside the top ten when I felt something not quite right with the bike and came straight back to the box. The one-bike rule really hurt us today – just when I needed to be doing some laps. There was about half an hour of the session left, so I used the time to go and watch some of the other guys out on track. I need all the information I can get because the guys really got no useful data from last year’s visit here – even the gearing was out. Two seconds is a lot to find but you can get half a second just through a bit of confidence, so it’s not all gloom and doom. There’s light at the end of this particular tunnel and we’ve got all day tomorrow to learn some more and try to improve our position for Sunday.

Hiroshi Aoyama – P18, 2m01.827s I had quite a good feeling in the first session and I was quite confident that I could improve this afternoon. But in that qualifying session it was very strange that many things didn’t work. I could not stop the bike, I could not turn the bike and also I could not open the throttle when I wanted. So it wasn’t good. It seemed like the electronics were upsetting the braking a little, so maybe we need to adjust. I don’t know whether the higher temperatures this afternoon had an effect but it was definitely a little bit too much. It’s clear where the problem is and I think the guys can adjust for tomorrow.

2012 World Superbike championship – round eight, Motorland Aragon, Spain

First qualifying results:

1 Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW 1m58.608s

2 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 1m58.973s

3 Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki 1m59.123s

4 Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia 1m59.263s

5 Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW 1m59.396s

6 Ayrton Badovini (ITA) BMW 1m59.751s

7 Michel Fabrizio (ITA) BMW 1m59.770

8 Chaz Davies (GBR) Aprilia 2m00.146s

14 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike Team 2m00.617s

18 Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda World Superbike Team 2m01.827s

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