Jonathan Rea set the second fastest time in this afternoon’s first qualifying session for round seven of the 2012 World Superbike championship at Misano in Italy and declared himself happy with progress.
In warm and sunny conditions at the 4.226km circuit near Italy’s north-east coast, the 25-year-old from Northern Ireland was less than five hundredths of a second behind provisional pole setter, Carlos Checa. Indeed, so close were today’s lap times that the top 16 provisional Superpole contenders were separated by less than one second.
Buoyed by results from the last two rounds, Rea and his crew began this morning’s opening free practice with a less than ideal setting on his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. He closed that session in eighth place, but a series of chassis changes and data analysis put Rea right back in contention this afternoon.
His Honda World Superbike team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, ended today’s provisional qualifying in 19th place, but the Japanese rider’s ideal time places him higher up the timing sheets, so he is hopeful of an improvement in second qualifying tomorrow morning.
Jonathan Rea – P2, 1m36.568s We didn’t have the best setting this morning and I was quite uncomfortable on the bike on track. As I completed more laps, my data engineer pointed to a few things I was doing wrong and it was clear we also needed to change the setting that we started with. So, we started this afternoon’s session with new gearing, fork spring settings and wheelbase, which was quite a lot of changes. The first thing was to put more laps on the tyre I used this morning and then, when we put in a fresh, slightly harder tyre, I still had a good rhythm and got a good lap time. I’m happy for the first day though – the bike’s working good and it’s clear there is still a lot more we can do to get more satisfied with the set-up. Will make some more changes overnight and try those in the morning, but what I’m really happy with is the emotion in the team. Between sessions we were very calm and made methodical, positive changes and I’d like to thank the guys for that. Hopefully tomorrow we can improve not only the lap time but also the race pace.
Hiroshi Aoyama – P19, 1m37.733s This morning I had a problem with the rear and with turning the bike and those two things were improved for the session this afternoon. The lap time came a little bit better and my ideal time improved a lot. The problem was that I could not get it all together in one lap, so the position did not improve. We will try to work in the same direction tomorrow and see how we can improve from this position. The problems are more clear now, so we hope that we can make things better tomorrow.
Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator We came here with Jonathan in positive mood from Miller but when we started the morning session it became apparent that the setting itself was not so good for this track. But the comments were quite clear so, for this afternoon, we had quite a good plan for some changes. They all worked out quite well and every step we made was in the right direction, so well done to Chris (Pike) and the guys. We put a different tyre in for the last outing and Jonathan got into a good rhythm that brought him the second fastest time of today, so it’s looking OK. On Hiroshi’s side, he came up to speed quite quickly this morning, which was encouraging, but when we put in a fresh tyre at the end of the session he couldn’t improve. In the afternoon, it was a similar situation when, towards the end of the session, it becomes harder for him to improve again while the others are going faster, which drops him back a little bit. But it’s looking better than before and hop efully the guys will have a plan for tonight and we’ll see what that brings tomorrow.
2012 World Superbike championship – round seven, Misano World Circuit, Italy
First qualifying results:
Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati 1m36.521s
Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike Team 1m36.568s
Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 1m36.703s
Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW 1m36.795s
Davide Giuliano (ITA) Ducati 1m36.806s
Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati 1m36.829s
*19 Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda World Superbike Team 1m37.733s