Just three days ago at the pre-season World Superbike test in Phillip Island, Jonathan Rea had to jump from his Castrol Honda CBR1000RR around 130 mph.
The 24-year-old Northern Irishman injured his left wrist, and the rest of his body simply took a beating. It was uncertain if Rea would compete at this weekend’s opening round of World Superbike at that same Australian track, but he was out on the track Friday.
Battling through some pain, Rea began Friday with the second fastest time at Free Practice 1, just behind the leader Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati Superbike).
But not being able to improve his lap time with Pirelli’s new "Big" rear tire, and due to pain, Rea opted to sit out during some of Friday’s final session of the day, World Superbike Qualifying practice; he would go onto to finish ninth as Checa posted the quickest time.
Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda Superbike) says: "I think the most important thing is that the Clinica Mobile guys have patched me up really well. My back and neck are really sore today, but the heavy strapping on my left wrist seems to be fine on the bike. This morning we worked through race distance on a potential race tire and we continued that this afternoon.
"But when we threw in the new bigger shape tire, which was working really well on Tuesday, the track temperatures were too hot so it wasn’t any better. So, rather than burn another tire from our allocation and burn valuable energy at this point of the weekend, we sat out the session.
"To be top ten after the first day and to have another 36 hrs to get stronger for Sunday makes me really optimistic. The bike’s working great and is really fun to ride and I have no confidence issues after the crash on Tuesday. When I was lying in hospital on Wednesday and the doctors were talking about keeping me in another night, I never even thought I’d be on a bike this weekend. I’d like to say a really big thanks to everyone who’s got me to this position, and for me to be putting in good lap times on old tires is really down to them."
As for Rea’s teammate, Ruben Xaus finished 19th fastest at Qualifying practice, also having trouble with the bigger rear tire on his CBR 1000 RR superbike.
Ruben Xaus (Castrol Honda Superbike) says: "I planned not to use so many tires this afternoon but my last run was quite difficult. I spent most of today working on race distances with old tyres and then when we moved to the bigger tire we expected to go better. I couldn’t even get close to the times I was doing on the smaller tire.
"Instead the rear started to jump quite badly and it was very difficult to hold the line without that grip. I just couldn’t use it and I think with the smaller tire I was already having some problems absorbing the bumps, so this just made it worse. We’re still making changes to the bike and it’s really beginning to feel like it’s mine – I can have some fun with it now – and the team is working really. I need to improve some things myself and try again tomorrow."
Ronald ten Kate (Castrol Honda Team Manager) says: "After Jonathan’s high speed crash and the injuries he sustained, we’re honestly just happy that he is even riding the bike again here this weekend. His performance just shows what a tough, strong and brave rider he is.
"Today we weren’t pushing for too many laps and we were trying to keep some tires in reserve. After another night’s sleep and some more recovery time we can hopefully we can make another step forward tomorrow.
"On Ruben’s side of the garage we are clearly not where we would like to be. There are a few things we still need to figure out with him because on used tires there seems to be quite good speed but things got worse when we put in a new tire. We need to look into this and make a big step forward tomorrow."
The team will be back at Phillip Island Saturday, where they will have another free practice and qualifying session, then Superpole for Sunday’s season opener.
2011 World Superbike, Phillip Island, Australia: First qualifying results:
1. Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati Superbike 1m31.577s
2. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati Superbike 1m31.850s
3. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Yamaha Superbike 1m31.969s
4. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia Superbike 1m32.009s
5. Jakub Smrz (CZE) Ducati Superbike 1m32.066s
6. Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW Superbike 1m32.082s
9. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Castrol Honda Superbike 1m32.424s
19. Ruben Xaus (ESP) Castrol Honda Superbike 1m33.411s