Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea earned himself a provisional front row start by setting the fastest time in today’s opening qualifying session for Sunday’s title-deciding World Superbike championship finale at Portimao in Portugal.
Rea lapped the 4.92km circuit in a time of 1’43.786s – one thousandth of a second under Troy Bayliss’s 2008 lap record – while title rivals Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga set the third and ninth fastest times respectively in this afternoon’s hour-long qualifying session.
Carlos Checa also took a provisional front row start by setting the fourth fastest time with a lap of 1’43.945s. The Spaniard is confident of further improvement in tomorrow morning’s second qualifying session, to be followed by Superpole at 14.00h local time to determine final grid positions for Sunday’s two 22-lap races.
Jonathan Rea – P1, 1’43.786s
That was a good first day and we’ve found a good balance with the bike. We’ve been trying to put some distance on race tyres and we only used three tyres today. I’m finding more confidence on the bike each time I go out and the team is working really well. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves though, and know that we need to go out and attack tomorrow, just like we did today. This is quite a technical track and I felt like I really gelled with it for the first time during that session. That’s not all down to me, but also to the hard work the team has been putting in recently.
Carlos Checa – P4, 1’43.945s
It seems that we have a base setting that works really well at places like Brno, Nurburgring and here, while it is more critical at other tracks like Imola and Magny-Cours. Here, we are again on the pace, even though there are still some areas we need to work on. Today, I tested both bikes and the two tyre options and, although the setting’s were quite different, the lap times were similar. We will try to push for tomorrow and make some longer runs on the tyres, but I think we are already nearly ready.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
That was a very good start to the weekend and it’s easy to see now the progress and improvements that have been made to the Honda CBR1000RR during this year, since the pre-season tests at Portimao, where the unique layout makes it such a joy for the riders. Having two bikes on the provisional front row is testimony to the hard work that the riders and their crews have been putting in during the year. There is still some more work to do, of course, and we will start to put that in this evening to see where we can make some improvements for tomorrow.