Jonathan Rea found it hard hide his delight at securing provisional pole position after first qualifying at Imola today. Using the new ride-by-wire electronics system for the first time during a race weekend, Rea overhauled Carlos Checa in the final minutes to re-assert himself as a WSB front runner once again.
Having tested the new electronics system in Misano last week, Rea was positive about its potential but his performance today exceeded both his and his Castrol Honda team’s expectations.
Speaking to MCN, Re said: “I’m really happy. It just feels easier than it did before especially on corner entry. Before I had to work hard to settle the bike on the way into the turn before I could really enter the corner. But now once I’ve done my back shifts the bike is more stable and I can tip into the corner.”
While Rea was clearly positive about the performance of the new electronics he also attributed his pace to the newly laid and higher grip tarmac that covers the majority of the historic Italian circuit:
“The grip is definitely better and with grip it’s easy to mask any set-up of handling problems. But it’s still relative to everybody else because it’s the same for everyone and we’re still at the front.”
Championship leader Carlos Checa made an impressive start to what will potentially be the most important weekend of his distinguished career. Checa leads Italian Marco Melandri by 74 points meaning that it is a genuine possibility that he could be crowned champion on Sunday.
He said: “We did a good job today with the bike and the tyres. I feel strong at this track, especially last year, but with the new surface for this season the track has changed quite a bit – especially for the tyres. I am working on this and as always we have tyres that are fast will struggle for endurance and the longer lasting tyres are not so good for the lap time.”
Leon Haslam put an impressive performance to secure third position onboard his BMW Motorrad S1000RR to finish third ahead of Alstare Suzuki’s Michel Fabrizio and Yamaha man Marco Melandri who hasn’t ridden the Imola circuit for ten years.
Nurburgring race winner Tom Sykes secured sixth with Leon Camier 13th and Eugene Laverty down in 18th spot.