Photography by Gold and Goose
Jonathan Rea got the Imola World Superbike weekend off to a strong start as the Pata Honda rider was the fastest rider Friday in the opening day at the Imola round of the World Superbike Series. Rea’s 1:48.147 just nipped series leader Tom Sykes, who clocked a 1:48.187 aboard his factory Kawasaki. Marco Melandri made it three different manufacturers owning the three fastest times. Italian Melandri rode his Aprilia to a time of 1:48.262 on home soil.
In a closely competitive Friday, the top seven riders were all within a second of Rea’s top time.
Rea is no stranger to success at Imola. He’s scored two podium results at Imola - he won the first race in 2011 and was second last year in race two. The 27-year-old Brit is coming into Imola in good form having scored three podiums in the last four races, including a win in the last outing at a wet Assen in the Netherlands.
“I really enjoy riding at Imola, but the whole weekend is a great experience because there’s always such an atmosphere at the track with all the passionate Italian fans,” Rea said. “I’ve actually been in Italy with my family since the last race at Assen, so I’m looking forward to the weekend here. I want to build on the recent results we’ve been able to achieve and keep the ball rolling. The layout at Imola really suits me and the bike, but we’ll be concentrating on set-up through all the practice sessions to make sure that we can run the CBR with the front group on raceday. At the moment, the weather looks OK, but we certainly hope it’s more consistent than at Assen.”
Tom Sykes could be the man to beat at Imola: last year he scored the double from pole, recording both fastest laps. In race two he also led flag to flag. Tom adds to these wins two second places, behind Carlos Checa, in the 2012 races. Tom is the only rider in history to have recorded more than one pole here: he counts three so far (2010, his maiden pole; 2012; 2013).
Surprisingly this is one of the two tracks, along with Assen, where Marco Melandri never stood on the podium in his six Superbike races run here. He always scored points at Imola, finishing between fourth and tenth and posting last year his best result: twice fourth. Furthermore, Melandri never started a race at Imola from the front row.
The famous Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit is located in the heart of the town of Imola, 40km south-west of Bologna in northern Italy.
The American EBR squad of Geoff May and Aaron Yates were both near the very bottom of the timing charts Friday.
Imola World Superbike practice times, May 9, 2014
1 65 J. REA Honda CBR1000RR 1'48.147
2 1 T. SYKES Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'48.187
3 33 M. MELANDRI Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'48.261
4 50 S. GUINTOLI Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'48.323
5 34 D. GIUGLIANO Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'48.329
6 7 C. DAVIES Ducati 1199 Panigale R 1'48.592
7 91 L. HASLAM Honda CBR1000RR 1'48.999
8 58 E. LAVERTY Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'49.259
9 76 L. BAZ Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'49.600
10 19 L. CAMIER BMW S1000 RR EVO 1'49.610
11 22 A. LOWES Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'49.710
12 112 I. GOI Ducati 1199 Panigale R EVO 1'49.920
13 59 N. CANEPA Ducati 1199 Panigale R EVO 1'50.015
14 44 D. SALOM Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'50.103
15 86 A. BADOVINI Bimota BB3 EVO 1'50.228
16 24 T. ELIAS Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'50.370
17 2 C. IDDON Bimota BB3 EVO 1'50.609
18 23 L. SCASSA Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'50.926
19 71 C. CORTI MV Agusta F4 RR 1'51.034
20 84 M. FABRIZIO Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'51.357
21 21 A. ANDREOZZI Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'51.544
22 11 J. GUARNONI Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'51.572
23 9 F. FORET Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'51.581
24 32 S. MORAIS Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1'51.707
25 10 I. TOTH BMW S1000 RR 1'52.445
26 99 G. MAY EBR 1190 RX 1'54.669
27 56 P. SEBESTYEN BMW S1000 RR EVO 1'55.102
NQ 20 A. YATES EBR 1190 RX 1'56.225