Photography by Gold & Goose
Under a scorching late-spring sun, Irishman Jonathan Rea was pushing hard, setting his Pata Honda CBR1000RR into long power slides through the turns, and in the end his aggressive style paid off. Rea, in a mild surprise, earned his first Superpole of the season and will start from the number one spot on the grid in tomorrow’s World Superbike races at famous Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola.
Rea, who’s shown good speed all weekend, pulled out the stops in the closing minutes of Superpole 2 and managed to best fellow front row starters Sylvain Guintoli (factory Aprilia) and Davide Giugliano (factory Ducati) by just over 2-10ths of a second in the end.
Giugliano, who’d been fast in the morning practice session, kicked off the Superpole 2 session with a time of 1:47.172. Rea and Davies trailed just 3-10ths of a second behind.
In the final half of the session things heated up though with Guintoli pushing his Aprilia to 1:46.554 to go to P1 with just under four minutes. Then Rea shot to the top of the charts with a 1:46.289 with about two minutes to go. That was the time that proved to be the top of the session and gave Rea his fourth career Superpole.
Imola’s World Superbike track record of 1:45.981 set by Tom Sykes last year holds. Sykes, who is normally a Superpole master, had a sub-par outing Saturday, managing only sixth best on his factory Kawasaki.
Leon Haslam had a rough day. He crashed in the morning and ended in the gravel trap in Superpole 2. Alex Lowes had issues with his Suzuki and was out of the session early on and never got back into the fray.
The Honda faithful had to be thrilled with Rea’s unpredicted performance. Even he admitted surprise at scoring his first Superpole in three years.
“Honestly I didn’t really expect it,” said Rea, who last won a pole at Portimao in 2011. “I knew we had really good pace. We were working a lot towards the race tomorrow. This pole position doesn’t really seem to have my name on it, so I’m really happy. The lap was really good and I want to thank all the guys in my box. They’re working incredibly hard and are making the CBR better and better. Today in Pata’s backyard here in Italy it’s great. I’m looking forward to two strong races tomorrow and hopefully we can be back in here [press room] talking to you.”
Rea was beaming when presented his Superpole award by none other than racing legend Giacomo Agostini.
Niccolo Canepa topped the Evo bikes with a 1:48.240 on his Althea Racing Ducati.
Americans Geoff May and Aaron Yates qualified 26th and 27th out of 28 riders, a little over six seconds off the pole pace.
Imola World Superbike Qualifying, May 10, 2014
1. Jonathan Rea GBR PATA Honda World Superbike CBR1000RR 1m 46.289s
2. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Aprilia Racing Team RSV4 1m 46.554s
3. Davide Giugliano ITA Ducati Superbike Team 1199 Panigale R 1m 46.555s
4. Chaz Davies GBR Ducati Superbike Team 1199 Panigale R 1m 46.678s
5. Marco Melandri ITA Aprilia Racing Team RSV4 1m 46.740s
6. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R 1m 46.767s
7. Loris Baz FRA Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R 1m 47.014s
8. Eugene Laverty IRL Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 1m 47.715s
9. Niccolo Canepa ITA Althea Racing Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1m 48.240s (E)
10. Leon Haslam GBR PATA Honda World Superbike CBR1000RR 1m 48.242s
11. Leon Camier GBR BMW Motorrad Italia SBK S1000RR 1m 48.371s (E)
12. Alex Lowes GBR Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 No Time
13. Ivan Goi ITA BARNI Racing Team Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1m 48.632s (E)
14. David Salom ESP Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R 1m 48.743s (E)
15. Toni Elias ESP Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 1m 48.882s
16. Ayrton Badovini ITA Team Bimota Alstare BB3 1m 48.909s (E)
17. Luca Scassa ITA Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1m 49.732s (E)
18. Sheridan Morais RSA IRON BRAIN Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1m 49.781s (E)
19. Christian Iddon GBR Team Bimota Alstare BB3 1m 49.997s (E)
20. Michel Fabrizio ITA IRON BRAIN Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1m 50.936s (E)
21. Claudio Corti ITA MV Agusta RC-Yakhnich M. F4RR 1m 50.741s
22. Fabien Foret FRA MAHI Racing Team India Kawasaki ZX-10R 1m 50.781s (E)
23. Alessandro Andreozzi ITA Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1m 50.959s (E)
24. Jeremy Guarnoni FRA MRS Kawasaki ZX-10R 1m 51.048s (E)
25. Imre Toth HUN BMW Team Toth S1000RR 1m 52.325s
26. Geoff May USA Team Hero EBR 1190RX 1m 52.763s
27. Aaron Yates USA Team Hero EBR 1190RX 1m 52.831s
28. Peter Sebestyen HUN BMW Team Toth S1000RR 1m 53.555s (E)