Saturday, February 22, 2014

Team Pata Honda's Rea Qualifies 6th, Haslam 9th in World Superbike Season-Opener at Phillip Island

Phillip Island - Australia    22.02.2014

Second row for Rea in Phillip Island opener
Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow’s two opening races of the 2014 FIM eni World Superbike championship from the second row of the grid after setting the sixth-fastest time in this afternoon’s Superpole qualifying session at Phillip Island in Australia.

In the new-format, two-part Superpole, Rea’s team-mate Leon Haslam took his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP into Superpole 1 as the 12th fastest rider from the first three timed practices.

The 30-year-old British rider qualified comfortably fastest from Superpole 1 and joined Rea and the other nine quickest riders from the timed free practice sessions for the 15-minute Superpole 2 to determine the final positions for the first four rows of the grid. Haslam set the ninth-quickest time in Superpole two for a third row start tomorrow.

Pole position was taken by Sylvain Guintoli as Haslam and Rea, 27, improved on their best times from free practice with a single Pirelli qualifying tyre. However, the Northern Irishman lost some grip towards the end of his solitary flying lap on the softer rubber.

The first of tomorrow’s two 22-lap openers at the 4.445km Phillip Island will start at 12.00 local time, with the second outing at 14.40.

Jonathan Rea - P6 1m30.660s

Superpole went quite smoothly for us, really – no major problems apart from the fact that my qualifier really ran out of grip halfway through the lap. It meant the last two corners were a little bit…er, exciting! But we worked quite well today and I was really happy with our earlier free practice run when we worked solely on our race set-up. I’m not exactly sure about everyone else’s pace but I think we’ve definitely moved forward from yesterday, which is good. I guess we’ll know after 22 laps tomorrow if we’ve done our homework properly, but I’m quite happy with my choice of race tyre. The weather conditions and wind direction in warm-up tomorrow will determine our last-minute settings, but I’m really looking forward to getting the season underway. It’s been a lo ng winter coming back from the injury last year and I want to thank everyone that has helped to get me back on to the grid again – they know who they are and hopefully we can do a good job for the whole Pata Honda team tomorrow.

Leon Haslam - P9 1m31.138s

It’s a little disappointing after feeling really confident after the test here earlier this week. We put in a new specification engine yesterday, which is more powerful and a bit more aggressive. It’s thrown a few little bugs into our plans and we’ve only been able to make a few steps back towards where we were in the test. I’d say we’re around 50% of the way there and we made some more progress in those two Superpole outings. But, as I say, it’s a little disappointing because in the test I was feeling really confident. On the positive side, we can see where the issues are and we just need to study the electronics to get them sorted. The chassis settings and tyres are exactly the same as we ran in the test and, apart from one or two other niggling little problems, I’m happy with all that.

Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator

It’s not been an easy day for us, especially on Leon’s side where we struggled to get the right electronics set-up. It has been harder for him to do the lap times compared to the test here and this seems to be connected to the difference in engine performance. We are on to something now and have already made some steps; if we can find something more tomorrow, I’m quite sure he can do the rest and find a few tenths because he has been quick since we got here. Jonathan was sixth, but we’ve had similar problems to Leon’s. We still need to find a couple of tenths in the last sector and if we can get those he can still fight for the podium.

Qualifying Results

1  Sylvain Guintoli1m30.038sFRAAPRILIAAprilia Racing Team
2  Davide Guigliano1m30.135sITADUCATIDucati Superbike Team
3  Marco Melandri1m30.332sITAAPRILIAAprilia Racing Team
4  Eugene Laverty1m30.385sIRLSUZUKIVoltcom Crescent Suzuki
5  Alex Lowes1m30.421sGBRSUZUKIVoltcom Crescent Suzuki
6  Jonathan Rea1m30.660sGBRHONDAPata Honda
7  Loris Baz1m30.796sFRAKAWASAKIKawasaki Racing Team
8  Tom Sykes1m30.835sGBRKAWASAKIKawasaki Racing Team
9  Leon Haslam1m31.138sGBRHONDAPata Honda
10  Niccolo Canepa1m31.274sITADUCATIAlthea Racing

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