News 26 Oct 2009

WSBK: Rea on front row in fourth for final round at Portimao


Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow’s final two World Superbike championship races at Portimao in Portugal from the front row of the grid after setting the fourth fastest times in today’s Superpole qualifying sessions.

The 22-year-old had topped the time sheets in both earlier qualifying sessions and set a blistering time in the Superpole 1 on a race tyre. However, in Superpole 3, Rea had to ride around a slower rider, after showing the quickest time in the first two sectors of his flying lap of the 4.92km Portimao circuit.

Rea’s bid for the top slot was spoiled, as Ben Spies went on to take pole position for tomorrow’s two 22-lap races, with series leader, Noriyuki Haga, qualifying tenth fastest.

Although he ran comfortably within the top six of all free practice and qualifying sessions, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa will start from the third row of the grid after setting the 12th fastest time in Superpole.

Jonathan Rea – P4, 1’42.719s (Superpole 2)

I’m actually quite happy – it’s a front row start after all, and we’ve been right on the pace all weekend so far. The strange thing is that the bike seems to work better on race tyres than it does on the qualifiers, so I think we’re ready and feeling confident for tomorrow. I had a few problems with other riders on the track and I made a few mistakes of my own, but I’m not going to be too down in the dumps about it. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s two races, which are going to be a proper dog fight, for sure!

Carlos Checa – P12, 1’43.461s (Superpole 2)

Once again, we seem to have struggled in qualifying. I did the same lap times on the qualifying tyre as I did on the race tyre. Qualifying yesterday and this morning was good and we had the pace for top five. But with the qualifying tyres in the bike, we don’t seem to have enough pace even for the top eight. I’m not so worried though, and I think we can run top five pace again in the races with a good start. The races are long so there will be plenty of overtaking opportunities.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

Clearly, someone was in the way of Jonathan’s fast lap in the final Superpole session and it was the usual guy waiting around for a tow. However, Jonathan’s front row start is not so bad and we are quite sure he will have the pace to run at the front in tomorrow’s races. Of course, we are disappointed for Carlos after he has been running in the top five or six all weekend, but I’m sure he will be able to battle well tomorrow.

Stiggy Racing Honda rider Leon Haslam secured a strong fifth place on the second day of qualifying for the ultimate round of the World Superbike Championship at Portimao in Portugal today.

Leon who started the weekend at a strong pace encountered technical issues in the last minutes of qualifying yesterday and didn’t get enough laps out around the 4.592km track on his CBR 1000RR, finishing in a 10th place. Luckily Leon quickly found his pace again in today’s sessions and worked his way up through the afternoon’s three 12-minute Superpole shoot-outs to finally take a second row start for tomorrow’s 22-lap races.

Leon Haslam – P5 – 1’43.523s:

“I am pretty happy and we made some good progress through the weekend. We are lacking a little bit in the high RPM, so we are losing 0.1 or 0.2 seconds per lap, but we have only been 0.1 or 0.2 off the quickest all weekend. In that last Superpole we were frustrated because we ended up going back to the old qualifying tyre. It had dropped off a bit but it was still better than the new one. But I’m still quite happy to be fifth and on the second row.”

Johan Stigefelt – Team Manager:

“I am really happy and it is fantastic to come to the end of the season and make it into the final Superpole, and Leon finished fifth, which is great. We were hoping for a front row but the second qualifying tyre he used in the last section was not good enough so he did his best time on a used qualifier. We are looking forward to tomorrow as Leon is very strong, one of the most consistent riders, and I’m sure he can challenge for the podium.”