Belfast Telegraph

Good start key for Eugene Laverty

By Roy Harris

World Superbike contenders Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty are in Malaysia ahead of tomorrow’s sixth round, as the series visits the Sepang Circuit for the first time.

After opening practice in searing heat, Laverty and his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki ended the day in sixth position ahead of today’s Superpole qualifying despite a small crash at Turn 4 in the first free session.

“In the morning session we were a long way off the pace, but in the afternoon we jumped up to be within a quarter of a second of the top guys, as our bike worked the best it has done in these hot and slippery conditions,” said Laverty.

 We definitely made a step forward chassis-wise. For qualifying I need to be in the top six to be on those all important front two rows for the race. I need to also make a good start in the race, as they have been a thorn in my side this year. So that’s the key for qualifying.”

Pata Honda rider Rea, meanwhile, ended the day in eighth place suffering lack of grip in the hot and humid conditions.

Currently second in the championship 26 points behind leader Tom Sykes, Rea said: “It’s disappointing to be this far off the pace on day one.

“We were able to improve our time with a new rear tyre, but generally we need to improve our base speed. We had some engine cutting along the straights when I was on full throttle, which we need to sort out, because at a track like Sepang it’s quite a disadvantage. I was losing about half a second in the last sector because of the problem. Hopefully we have it all sorted for qualifying.”

Aprilia’s locked down the top three positions on combined times from the first two practice sessions with Sylvain Guintoli, Marco Melandri and Toni Elias followed by Davide Giugliano, Sykes and Laverty.

In Supersport, Dubliner Jack Kennedy finished the day down in 13th position on his CIA Insurance Honda with a lot of work to do in final qualifying.

The WSB and WSS races will take place in the early hours of tomorrow morning our time.

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