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Rea leaves it late to be fastest on the first day of the season

Phillip Island (Australia), Friday 24 February 2012 – Jonathan Rea pulled off the surprise of the day in first qualifying at Phillip Island as the Honda World Superbike man put in the only sub-1m32s lap in the last couple of minutes to head the field.

Rea’s time of 1 minute 31.959 seconds put him in front of three Ducati riders, who had dominated the session until then. Second place went to Jakub Smrz on the Liberty Racing machine, followed by Superstock 1000 champion Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) in third and his team-mate Carlos Checa in fourth. The Italian rookie actually led at one point, before the others put in faster laps close to the end of the 45-minute session.

Jonathan Rea: “Going fastest was a pleasant surprise and also kind of our plan. We went out and got on a decent pace right away, sort of 1’32 lap times, but with old tyres. Then we developed a problem with the bike and we lost a bit of time during the session. When we did go out again I went out with what I think the race tyre is going to be fitted to the rear, but it did not have the pace of the tyre I used at the end. I did about ten laps on that tyre, all very consistent but it was not going to be the fastest lap of the day. I came in to the pits near the end and got a new tyre then went out and we got a bit of a feel good factor; just to see that we were not that far away from the pace really.”

Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) was next up in fifth place ahead of the Red Devils Roma Ducati of another rookie Niccolò Canepa, while the final two places on the provisional second row went to the two Kawasaki Racing Team riders, Tom Sykes and Joan Lascorz. Lascorz had a fall in the timed session, Sykes a tumble in the earlier free practice session.

Joshua Brookes (Crescent Suzuki), Checa and Maxime Berger (Effenbert Liberty) all went off during the official session, but without any consequences, while Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing) again crashed, picking up a head knock, but was declared fit after medical checks.

Italian stars Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) and Michel Fabrizio (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) rounded out the top ten places. Top Suzuki rider was Leon Camier (Crescent Fixi Suzuki) with privateer Aprilia rider Chaz Davies (ParkinGO MTC Racing) 13th from 25 entrants.

Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) returned to the track today after his big testing crash and did three laps to see how his recovery from very recent surgery was holding up. He set a 1’33.5 lap time and has qualified to race if he is deemed fit enough to do so.

Times: 1. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 1’31.959; 2. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 1’32.116; 3. Giugliano D. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’32.198; 4. Checa C. (ESP) Ducati 1098R 1’32.228; 5. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’32.318; 6. Canepa N. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 1’32.343; 7. Sykes T. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’32.402; 8. Lascorz J. (ESP) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’32.443; 9. Melandri M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1’32.553; 10. Fabrizio M. (ITA) BMW S1000 RR 1’32.609; 11. Guintoli S. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1’32.644; 12. Camier L. (GBR) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’32.817; 13. Davies C. (GBR) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’32.874; 14. Staring B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’32.884; 15. Aoyama H. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR 1’33.040; 16. Berger M. (FRA) Ducati 1098R 1’33.075; etc.

Superbike records at Phillip Island
Fastest Lap: Troy Corser (Yamaha) 1’31″826 (2007)
Best Lap: Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’30″882 (2011)

World Supersport

Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) is the man most on form in World Supersport, the Aussie powering his Honda CBR600RR to the quickest time in 1 minute 34.532 seconds on the first day of qualifying. Parkes was just 26 thousandths of a second ahead of Frenchman Jules Cluzel on a PTR Honda machine, a new arrival on this year’s Supersport grid and one of the stars of recent winter testing.

Third place went to Sam Lowes from the Bogdanka side of the PTR operation, with two former champions, Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini), next up. Alex Baldolini was the top Italian in sixth place, a good effort on the Power Team by Suriano Triumph, but team-mate Vittorio Iannuzzo crashed and dropped down the order.

East European riders are also making major progress in these early stages, with Hungarian Balazs Nemeth (Racing Team Toth) ahead of Czech Lukas Pesek (PRORACE Honda) in seventh and eighth respectively.

Times: 1. Parkes B. (AUS) Honda CBR600RR 1’34.532; 2. Cluzel J. (FRA) Honda CBR600RR 1’34.558; 3. Lowes S. (GBR) Honda CBR600RR 1’34.564; 4. Foret F. (FRA) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’34.791; 5. Sofuoglu K. (TUR) Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’34.807; 6. Baldolini A. (ITA) Triumph Daytona 675 1’35.013; 7. Nemeth B. (HUN) Honda CBR600RR 1’35.296; 8. Pesek L. (CZE) Honda CBR600RR 1’35.526; etc.

Supersport records at Phillip Island

Fastest Lap: Fabien Foret (Honda) 1’34.941 (168.485 km/h) – 2011

Best Lap: Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1’33.847 (170.512 km/h) – 2010