News 24 Jan 2010

WSBK: Rea fastest, Neukirchner ninth on Portimao day two


Despite very different conditions from yesterday’s opening day, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea topped the timing sheets in both today’s World Superbike test sessions at Portimao in Portugal.

Heavy rain this morning meant most riders remained in their team garages, with Rea only venturing out for ten laps in the final half-hour of the session, going quickest on his final lap.

It was still wet at the beginning of this afternoon’s 2h20m session at the 4.592km Portuguese circuit but the track began to show signs of drying with 20 minutes remaining. Rea went out on intermediate tyres to set a series of fastest laps, eventually emerging three tenths faster than yesterday’s pace setter, Leon Haslam.

“We had completely different conditions today,” said a smiling Rea afterwards. “We ran with a prototype wet this morning, when conditions were bordering on dangerous. Then, on intermediates, we managed to go fastest again this afternoon and got to test some electronics as well. Today was a lot more positive than yesterday, really, and a lot less painful!”

Rea’s Hannspree Ten Kate team-mate, Max Neukirchner, rode his Honda CBR1000RR in the wet for the first time today and was ninth fastest this morning. The 26-year-old German got more accustomed to the bike’s performance in the rain as he continued the familiarisation process.

“I had a lot of fun riding the bike in the wet for the first time this morning,” enthused Neukirchner, “and I like the way it handles. It was a little more difficult this afternoon with wet and dry patches. But the forecast is for dry weather again tomorrow, so I’ll be looking to make some more steps forward.”

With Kenan Sofuoglu missing from the World Supersport test, the team’s Michele Pirro also tested his new machine for the first time in wet conditions. The 23-year-old Italian impressed the paddock by setting the fastest time on a drying track this afternoon, almost half a second quicker than yesterday’s fastest rider, Joan Lascorz.