Belfast Telegraph

Rea's World title defence hotting up in Spain

By Paul Lindsay

Reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea, who currently leads this year's championship by 29 points after three wins and a second place from the opening two rounds, had a steady start during the opening practice sessions at round three in Spain.

The factory Kawasaki rider posted fourth and sixth places on the time sheets during the sessions at Motorland Aragon in Spain; all while trying to perfect some new chassis and suspension settings, as he looks to get the very best from his ZX-10R Kawasaki before the opening race today at 12 noon (UK time).

Rea has just 15 minutes this morning to perfect that set-up before Superpole qualifying at 9.30am (UK time) around the 5.344km circuit, which is based on the outskirts of Alcañiz in north-eastern Spain.

"We have not quite got the final setting nailed yet and we tried some different things in each session," explained Rea, who is doing his best to make improvements to the set-up of the new bike before today's action.

"I tried to make a long run in the afternoon but we didn't have the time, although we have some data from the fast times we did in testing here in November, so we can compare our new data with that now.

"For race day (Saturday) we will change the bike to a setting we know works and I will get into the rhythm of the bike in the final practice session," said the Ulsterman, who saw his team-mate Tom Sykes top the practice session.

Welshman Chaz Davies (Ducati) was three-tenths off Sykes' pace with Dutchman Michael van der Mark third quickest on the Ten Kate Honda. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) and reigning Superstock champ Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia) were just ahead of Rea in fourth and fifth respectively.

Reigning British Superbike champion Josh Brookes and his team-mate Karel Abraham continue to struggle aboard the Milwaukee BMWs, posting 17th and 19th place respectively.

Local MotoGP ace Eugene Laverty is also in action this weekend in Argentina. The Aspar Ducati rider is gunning for a top 10 result after his 12th placed finish last time out in Qatar.

The Losail circuit result last week was Eugene's best ever finish in MotoGP, but if yesterday's free practice is anything to go by, where he was again 12th on the timing sheets - a top 10 finish is certainly realistic.

Laverty explained: "I am pretty much back to full fitness now and my confidence is also high, so the objective in Argentina will be to try and qualify for Q2 and maybe fight for a top 10 finish on Sunday."

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