Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea set the fastest time in both today’s opening free practice sessions at Motorland Aragon in preparation for the two second-round World Superbike championship races at the Spanish circuit on Sunday.
The British rider fired his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP around the 5.344km Aragon circuit in a time of 1m58.180s in warm and sunny conditions this afternoon, two tenths ahead of compatriot and reigning World Superbike champion Tom Sykes. A third Brit, Chaz Davies, rounds out the provisional front row for Sunday’s two 17-lap races.
Rea and his Pata Honda team-mate Leon Haslam have both made significant development strides in the long break since round one at Phillip Island in Australia, improving the CBR’s overall chassis and electronics package during two recent three-day tests in Spain.
Haslam was able to dramatically improve his lap time this afternoon after an unsatisfactory opening free practice session, ending the day in ninth place.
Jonathan Rea P1, 1m58.180s
I’m quite satisfied with today – it’s been a really good start to the weekend for us. We’ve got quite a good base already, but I still need to work on optimising our engine braking quite a lot. The last time we were here it was quite good, but maybe a change in conditions has thrown some other issues into the mix. We can work a bit more on chassis settings tonight but, for day one, I’m quite happy with my out-and-out pace. With the change in raceday schedule, we need to do a long run tomorrow morning to work with a cooler race-one temperature in mind. We’ve got two rear options to check and see if our preferred tyre will work in cooler conditions around 10.30. So, after a longer run in the morning, I’ll get ready for Superpole.
Leon Haslam P9, 1m59.103s
Most of this morning’s session was wasted as we tried to get the bike sorted with the fresh engine but the guys made some good changes between sessions. My first flying lap was about 1.3s faster than I went all morning so that was a good step. I felt pretty consistent on that tyre but went quicker on a new tyre at the end. I made a lot of mistakes on my lap and got held up in some traffic so Im reasonably happy with this afternoon’s performance. I feel the lap could’ve been a high to mid-58s without those issues. We’ve got a way to go yet, but Johnny [Rea] seems to be able to put the lap together so we know the bike can go well here. Tomorrow’s the last timed session for Superpole, so the priority is to get into the top ten, but we need to test in the cooler conditions for Sunday, too.
Pieter Breddels technical co-ordinator
It’s been a really good day for Jonathan, topping the sheets this morning and this afternoon. Everyone’s been working really hard through the winter and since Phillip Island, so this makes everyone feel good. Tomorrow we still need to make some more improvements and find a bit of race pace, but I think it’s looking OK at the moment. Leon struggled a lot this morning, which was disappointing after the recent positive tests, but we found a direction again this afternoon. He got held up on his best lap, but we ended the day in a positive mood.