Checa and Rea talk opening qualifying Misano (photo)

Jonathan Rea set the fourth fastest time in today’s opening qualifying session for Sunday’s eighth round World Superbike championship encounter at Misano in Italy, earning himself a provisional front row start.

Along with Carlos Checa, his Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate, the 22-year-old Northern Irishman spent much of this morning’s free practice session evaluating Ohlins suspension alongside WP product, which has been run by the Ten Kate team in the past.

Fastest today was Italian rider Michel Fabrizio with Spaniard Checa setting the seventh fastest time. Despite air temperatures of 35 degrees and the track temperature approaching 50 degrees, the forecast for tomorrow at Misano is for rain.

Jonathan Rea Speaks… (P4, 1’37.238s)

"I’m not that happy because the balance of the CBR is not quite right yet, although I think a small change can make it a lot better. This afternoon was a little frustrating because I have two engines with different characteristics. The one I prefer was in the chassis that wasn’t handling as well as the one with the other engine. We’ll overlay the two sets of data tonight though, and get it working for tomorrow. I’m not too worried about position, really – I’m just very happy with the way the development of the bike is going. We’ve been testing new suspension this week and I feel this big step could be a new way forward for us."

Carlos Checa Speaks… (P7, 1’37.441s)

"For a first day this is not so bad. For a first day with new suspension it’s quite good. Of course, we need to understand how we can work with this alternative to get the best from it, but I think this is just a question of time. So far the feeling is very positive. For this weekend we now are working on tyres and we are getting good signs in this area, too. Tomorrow might be completely different of course if the weather forecast is correct, but the pace is quite good at the moment and times are very close. We can still improve things but I think a small change can make a big improvement."

Ronald ten Kate Speaks… (Team Manager)

"We tested at Magny-Course earlier this week and one of the things we looked at was suspension, which had a positive outcome. Of course, we have continued that evaluation here in Misano today with back-to-back comparisons to get as much data as we could. We will sit down and analyse that in fine detail tonight but, for a first day, it has not been a bad one."

2009 World Superbike championship, round eight – Misano, Italy

First qualifying, results:

1 Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Ducati 1’37.016s
2 Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha 1’37.102s
3 Yukio Kagayama (JPN) Suzuki 1’37.209s
4 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda 1’37.238s
5 Broc Parkes (AUS) Kawasaki 1’37.281s
6 Ryuichi Kiyonari (JPN) Ten Kate Honda Racing 1’37.386s
7 Carlos Checa (ESP) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda 1’37.441s