Rea is feeling good and eyeing win after solid Misano practice
Jonathan Rea finished second overall after the opening two practice sessions for the seventh round of the World Superbike Championship at Misano yesterday.
It was only on the penultimate lap that Dutchman Michael van der Mark deposed the Ulsterman from top spot by eight one thousandths of a second ahead of today's qualifying and opening race.
Van der Mark then suffered a massive high-side crash exiting the final corner and was taken to Rimini Hospital, where early examination found concussion, fractured right ribs and a fractured right wrist.
Rea also suffered a late crash when he lost the front end of his Kawasaki at the first chicane but was quickly back on his feet.
The four-time world champion said: "It is much hotter than when we tested here recently and, despite more rubber on the track, today's grip levels were lower.
"The bike is moving around a little here and we are just trying to understand where we are with it. I felt we had really good pace and speed. We understood the different tyres and it is clear which tyre we will use in the opening race. Overall, for the first day I feel not too bad; comfortable on the bike. The goal, as always, is to win."
As the series reaches the halfway mark, Rea trails Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista by 41 points in the Championship and he would love to narrow that gap by tomorrow afternoon after the two main races and the Superpole Sprint race.
Spaniard Bautista will line up alongside Rea on the front row of today's opening race, and with Van der Mark a non-starter, German Sandro Cortes will make a first ever Superbike front row start.
Eugene Laverty is, of course, out of this weekend's action having not fully recovered from the two broken wrists received in a crash at Imola six weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the Dunlop Masters series continues at Mondello Park today and tomorrow with the feature Superbike and Supersport riders contesting three races as the series moves towards halfway.
In Superbikes, Cullybackey rider Luke Johnston (BMW) has a nine-point lead over defending champion Richie Ryan (Mobil Yamaha). In Supersport, the first two rounds have seen treble winners in Caolan Irwin and Brian McCormack.
Racing begins today at 12.30pm and tomorrow at 10.40am.