Jonathan Rea was seventh fastest in today’s opening qualifying session for round six of the 2012 World Superbike championship at Miller Motorsports Park in the USA.

Racing Honda Motorcycles

The Honda World Superbike Team rider lapped the 4.9km Miller circuit just outside Salt Lake City in Utah in a time of 1m50.358s, half a second off provisional pole sitter, Jakub Smrz.

Rea sat out the opening 20 minutes of this morning’s free practice as torrential rain and high winds battered the Miller complex. The rain abated for the afternoon qualifying session, but the winds continued to affect top speeds down the 1.2km start-finish straight.

The morning conditions were far from ideal for Rea’s team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama to learn the track. The Japanese rider has never visited Miller and spent much of the day acclimatising himself to the layout, ending qualifying in 22nd place.

Jonathan Rea – P7, 1m50.358s I’m quite satisfied really. This morning was totally wet so we had no reference. Then we struggled a little bit in the beginning of this afternoon’s session but we didn’t change much on the bike because I thought it was me that needed to change. It’s quite a strange circuit because you have to flow round here and be smooth, and I was being a little bit too smooth. We went with the harder tyre to start with but it was clear from everyone else that the softer tyre was bringing a better time. When we put that in it brought the lap time, but the important thing is that we’ve got a clear direction to go with the bike. We’re struggling a bit to finish the corner and it’s not steering the best. There are a lot of changes of direction here and were having issues in those areas. But it’s good when all the comments add up to one clear direction. No doubt the pace will hot up tomorrow and hopefully we can go with it.

Hiroshi Aoyama – P22, 1m52.390s The morning was wet and I went out straight away because I wanted to learn the track. But in the wet I could only learn the distance from corner to corner and the changes in elevation, so I only got an impression of the track. This afternoon was dry but a bit dusty and the grip was not so good. But at least I got a better feeling for the track and learned a bit. It’s an interesting track because there are many medium speed corners where you must carry speed and find the good line. At the moment I can’t finish the corner so well, so I need good speed and good lines to make a good lap. I hope it’s dry tomorrow so I can continue learning and set up the bike a little. We didn’t change much today, just made as many laps as possible.

Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator This morning was wet so Jonathan waited a bit to go out but, when he did go, he was immediately fastest. He only dropped down the order at the end when the track started to dry and he was already back in the box. Hiroshi needed all the laps he could get but the track was new to him and the conditions were not good. This afternoon was dry and Jonathan struggled a bit at first but he improved a lot to get seventh at the end. We’re quite positive about tomorrow because the problems we had last year we don’t have now. Our issues now are just more normal set-up work. Hiroshi just needs more laps and the balance of the bike is not quite right, so tomorrow we hope to find some more speed.

2012 World Superbike championship – round six, Miller Motorsports Park, USA

First qualifying results

  1. Jakub Smrz (CZE) Ducati 1m49.842s
  2. Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati 1m49.912s
  3. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW 1m50.038s
  4. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 1m50.091s
  5. Davide Giuliano (ITA) Ducati 1m50.280s
  6. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati 1m50.312s
  7. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike Team 1m50.358s
  8. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia 1m50.428s
  9. (22) Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda World Superbike Team 1m52.390s