Jonathan Rea gunning for double to tighten grip on title race
World Superbike Championship leader Jonathan Rea will be looking to extend his 50-point advantage this weekend at Imola over closest rival Leon Haslam on the Red Devils Aprilia, as the WSB series continues on European soil for the next four rounds.
Rea has made a blistering start to his 2015 campaign with the factory backed Kawasaki Racing Team - six wins from eight starts and two second places see the Ulsterman currently hold top spot on an impressive 190 points.
And during yesterday's opening free practice sessions, the Isle of Man-based Ballyclare lad took over top spot in FP2 from his KRT team-mate and former world champion Tom Sykes.
The Ducati duo of Davide Guigliano and Chaz Davies were next up on the timesheets in FP2, with British riders Haslam and Suzuki mounted Alex Lowes rounding out the top six.
Rea is a former double winner at Imola and having recorded doubles in Thailand and last time out at Assen, it would take a brave man to bet against him doing something similar this weekend with his new team.
Speaking on the famous three-mile Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Rea said: "I'm looking forward to Imola because it is a track I really enjoy.
"It's a technical track and requires a lot of thought to be put into making a perfect lap.
"There are many areas where you can make up time by using quite different techniques."
Closer to home, anyone who was fortunate enough to discover the gates of Kirkistown were open on Thursday would have been entertained by some of road racing's top performers.
Michael Dunlop was on track testing his factory built Milwaukee Yamaha YZF-R1 Yamaha prior to next week's Vauxhall International North West 200, and local team Tyco BMW were also there, complete with 40 foot British Superbike race transporter to service the requirements of Guy Martin, William Dunlop and Alastair Seeley.
Seeley was consistently on lap record pace on his Tyco BMW Motorrad S1000RR Superbike.