Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow’s two tenth-round World Superbike championship races at Brno from the front row of the grid after setting the fourth fastest time in this afternoon’s Superpole sessions. American Ben Spies took the pole slot at the 5.4km Czech circuit.
Despite setting the fastest time at a two-day World Superbike test in Imola, Italy last week, Rea’s performance this afternoon was a surprise to many after the Northern Irishman initially struggled to find a rhythm around the undulating Brno circuit.
However, a step forward during the first Superpole session today saw the 22-year-old set his fastest lap of the weekend. Rea then went out on a used qualifier in Superpole 3 to set his front row lap and underlined it with his fastest lap on a race tyre.
Rea’s Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate, Carlos Checa, will start tomorrow’s races from row three, despite running in the top five in the weekend’s free practice and regulation qualifying sessions.
The Spaniard – who crashed unhurt during free practice this afternoon – was unable to convert the additional grip from his allotted two qualifying tyres into fast laps during the Superpole session and could set only the tenth fastest time.
Jonathan Rea Speaks…. (P4, 1’59.740)
In free practice, just before Superpole, we found something in between the two set-ups we were trying. It worked during Superpole and then I was able to set a good time on a race tyre. It’s no secret we were struggling during the weekend and, although I’m now happy I can do good laps on a race tyre, I haven’t been able to do a long run. But at least I can sleep a little more happily tonight. It shows how hard the team has been working. I feel like I’m really finding my feet on the Superbike now and I’m enjoying life! I hope we can keep the momentum going through to the end of the season. I now know I can race tomorrow, so I’m really looking forward to it.
Carlos Checa Speaks… (P10, 1’59.748)
Well, the race is tomorrow and of course it would be better to start from the front two rows. However, I struggled when I put in the qualifier and couldn’t improve my lap time. Usually, you would expect to go at least one second quicker here at Brno, but today it didn’t come. The bike suddenly did not turn so well, especially on the gas and there was a lot of movement from the rear. I’m happy with the overall balance of the bike and I believe we have a good pace for tomorrow. But we need to do some more work with qualifiers to try to keep a good feeling like the race set-up.
Ronald ten Kate Speaks… (Team Manager)
We’re honestly in quite an unexpected position in a negative and a positive way. On the negative side, Carlos has been top five all weekend and our minimum goal was to help him to a start from the front two rows. Of course, his crash during the free practice just before Superpole did not help the position, but I’m still quite sure he will be a front runner tomorrow. On the positive side is Jonathan, who was struggling all weekend to find a rhythm here. We didn’t quite expect him to be able to propel himself up to the front row during Superpole. But an even bigger positive was the fact that he matched his best Superpole time with a race tyre right at the end in his final outing.
2009 World Superbike championship, round 10 – Brno, Czech Republic
Final qualifying results:
1 Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha 1’58.868s
2 Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Ducati 1’58.950s
3 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 1’59.055s
4 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda 1’59.740s
10 Carlos Checa (ESP) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda 1’59.748s
18 Ryuichi Kiyonari (JPN) Ten Kate Honda Racing 2’00.811s