Castrol Honda’s Jonathan Rea snagged the best lap in Friday’s World Superbike qualifying at the Imola circuit. The Irishman, equipped with a brand-new ride-by-wire throttle system, was 0.159 seconds faster than Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa and was at the top of the timesheets for the first time since Monza earlier this year.
“I’m really happy because not only am I showing that I’ve come back strongly from the injury, but we’ve also taken the bike into a completely different ballpark now,” said Rea. “It’s one of the many steps that we need to make towards 2012 and at the test in Misano last week we could definitely see the potential.”
Meanwhile BMW Motorrad’s Leon Haslam made it to the top-three in qualifying with the third-quickest lap, the Brit finishing just less than half a second behind Rea.
“I am really happy with the lap times,” Haslam said. “We did not use the soft tire in qualifying and basically worked on race simulation. Our consistency is probably one of the best out there. I would say that this was one of the best starts we have had to a race weekend, so we are going to keep on pushing for tomorrow.”
Lone Suzuki rider Michel Fabrizio posted the fourth-best lap of the day and was followed by Yamaha’s Marco Melandri and Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes, who claimed pole at the Imola circuit last year. Liberty Racing Ducati’s Sylvain Guintoli
Carlos Checa earned second in the timesheets behind Rea as the Spaniard looks to repeat his double victory from last year.
was seventh in the order as the Frenchman was 0.119 seconds adrift of Sykes and just 0.020 seconds ahead of Supersonic Racing’s Max Berger. Pata Aprilia’s Noriyuki Haga, who recently grabbed a podium finish at Nurburgring, was ninth on the timesheets as Czech rider Jakub Smrz rounded out the top-10 aboard his Liberty Racing Ducati 1098R.
Althea Racing’s Federico Sandi and Barni Racing Team’s Alessandro Polita followed Smrz just outside the top-10 as the two wildcard entries looked on pace to gain entry into Sunday’s races. Aprilia’s Leon Camier was the first rider more than a second behind Rea, with BMW Italia’s Aryton Badovini finishing the hour long session in 14th and 0.112 seconds behind the Brit. Kawasaki riders Mark Aitchison and Joan Lascorz followed in 15th and 16th respectively, with Castrol Honda’s Ruben Xaus struggling more than 1.6 seconds off the pace of his teammate despite also getting new ride-by-wire technology. Melandri’s Yamaha teammate, Eugene Laverty, also struggled back in 18th with BMW’s Troy Corser behind the Irishman by 0.020 seconds.
“That was the toughest Friday I’ve had so far, by a long shot,” Laverty said. “We struggled with the new surface a lot. The morning wasn’t so bad but with more bikes lapping the track as the day went on, creating more rubber on the surface, the grip got worse and that’s causing us to struggle with our rear setting.”
Imola World Superbike Friday Qualifying Results 2011:
1. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’48.241
Leon Haslam (GBR) finished the first qualifying practice at Imola on his BMW S1000RR in third place.
2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’48.400
3. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1’48.701
4. Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki) 1’48.726
5. Marco Melandri (Yamaha) 1’48.844
6. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’48.884
7. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1’49.003
8. Max Berger (Ducati) 1’49.023
9. Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) 1’49.041
10. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1’49.072
11. Federico Sandi (Ducati) 1’49.125
12. Alessandro Polita (Ducati) 1’49.134
13. Leon Camier (Aprilia) 1’49.282
14. Aryton Badovini (BMW) 1’49.394
15. Mark Aithchison (Kawasaki) 1’49.665
Yamaha ParkinGO’s Luca Scassa was at the time of the charts in World Supersport after posting a lap of 1’52.375. At his home circuit the Italian was 0.178 seconds faster than Kawasaki Motocard.com’s Broc Parkes, with Scassa’s teammate, Chaz Davies, rounding out the top-three times of the day 0.361 seconds adrift of Scassa. Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Fabien Foret was fourth in the order followed by Cresto Guide Honda’s Alex Lundh and Ten Kate Honda’s Florian Marino. Kawasaki’s David Salom was back in eighth and remains just one point ahead of Foret for second in the championship.
Imola World Supersport Friday Qualifying Results:
Yamaha ParkinGO’s Luca Scassa dominated Supersport qualifying at his home circuit ahead of Kawasaki’s Broc Parkes.
1. Luca Scassa (Yamaha) 1’52.375
2. Broc Parkes (Kawasaki) 1’52.553
3. Chaz Davies (Yamaha) 1’52.736
4. Fabien Foret (Honda) 1’53.056
5. Alexander Lundh (Honda) 1’53.301
6. Florian Marino (Honda) 1’53.329
7. Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha) 1’53.432
8. David Salom (Kawasaki) 1’53.471
9. Robbin Harms (Honda) 1’53.703
10. Sam Lowes (Honda) 1’53.717
11. Massimo Roccoli (Kawasaki) 1’53.761
12. Miguel Praia (Honda) 1’54.379
13. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Kawasaki) 1’54.610
14. James Ellison (Honda) 1’54.652
15. Ronan Quarmby (Triumph) 1’54.786