Rea ready to slug it out as World title race hots up
Mixed weather conditions affected both World Superbike and British Superbike opening practice sessions at Aragon and Brands Hatch Indy circuits yesterday.
The middle session of three at round three of the WSB championship was the only dry run the competitors got and it was Italian Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Ducati) on his final flying lap who topped the time sheets just 0.039seconds ahead of three-time WSB champion Jonathan Rea, who also set his time on his final lap, with his Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes in third ahead of qualifying this morning and the first race this afternoon.
Ulsterman Rea, currently leading the championship by two points from Melandri, is chasing his 56th WSB victory today
In World Supersport Andrew Irwin, in his outing on the CIA Landlords PTR Honda, faced a steep learning curve on his first day of free practice around the 3.173mile Spanish circuit finishing the day in 28th, 4.524secs slower than provisional pole man Randy Krummenacher.
Meanwhile Glenn Irwin (PBM Be Wiser Ducati) finished sixth fastest in yesterday's opening BSB practice at Brands Hatch (Indy Circuit), but this was only 0.280sec slower than his team-mate and record six-time BSB champion Shayne Byrne.
Byrne stormed to provisional pole ahead of James Ellison and Tyco BMW rider Christian Iddon in the final two minutes of the afternoon session.
This session was halted when Honda rider Dan Linfoot, who had just gone second, crashed at Graham Hill Bend and was taken to hospital for scans after complaining of a sore back.
Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) finished the day in 13th while first round double winner Bradley Ray was down in 16th, but not out of contention as a second covered the top 19 riders.
Qualifying takes place this afternoon ahead of tomorrow's two races.
Keith Farmer (Tyco BMW) and Andy Reid (EHA Aprilia) finished second and third in Superstock 1000cc practice just six one hundredths of a second apart and a 10th of a second behind provisional pole man Billy McConnell.
Josh Elliott (Morello Kawasaki) and Alastair Seeley (Stauff Quick Connect Academy Kawasaki) finished the day in sixth and seventh, four one hundredths of a second apart with just six 10ths splitting the top seven.
Tobermore's Adam McLean took his MSS Kawasaki to the second fastest time in the Superstock 600cc class in which Kevin Keyes was sixth, Caolan Irwin 10th and Aaron Clifford 23rd.
Jack Kennedy and Ben Currie were separated by just 0.080sec at the top of the Supersport class, a session that saw David Allingham in eighth, Robert Kennedy 15th, Ross Patterson 28th, Richard Kerr 32nd and William Dunlop 35th some four seconds down on Jack Kennedy's time.
Aghadowey rider Eunan McGlinchey continued his fine start to his Junior Supersport season by setting the second fastest time, a quarter of a second behind provisional pole rider Elliott Pinson.