Rea determined to bridge gap as Laverty escapes crash uninjured
Ulsterman Jonathan Rea had to settle for the second fastest time - behind arch rival Chaz Davies - after the first day of practice ahead of the fifth round of the World Superbike Championship at Imola in Italy.
Nobody could match determined Davies' time of one minute, 46.229 seconds, a significant 0.465 seconds quicker than back-to-back World champion and runaway leader Rea, who had his Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes 0.431 seconds further back in third.
Rea had led the opening session of the day ahead of Davies and Sykes, but the Aruba.it Ducati rider upped his game in session two to lower his time by a second heading into today's Superpole and first race as top qualifier.
Rea said: "In agility and handling, the bike is working well and is consistent. We just need more stability in the front - and we can only change that with more time.
"I did an interrupted long run, by the red flags, but in the last laps I did one of my personal best times. I am optimistic, but for sure we need to bridge the gap."
The second practice session was red flagged after Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) crashed and left debris on the circuit.
The uninjured Ulsterman went out in the re-started session and finished the day 10th fastest.
Laverty said: "Free Practice was good this morning. The feeling was good, but in the afternoon the temperature went up and the bike didn't feel the same.
"I went quicker, but I had a stupid crash which was disappointing. It felt like my bike again in FP1 like it did in Assen, but it's still not quick enough.
"We're still a long way behind the top four, so we're in the fight for fifth/sixth at the moment. We got straight into Superpole 2 again which was positive, so I'll push hard to qualify well."
Dublin rider Jack Kennedy, stand-in for the injured Stefan Hill in the Profile Racing Triumph team, was 13th in the opening Supersport session and 15th in Free Practice two.