Rea revved up to power further ahead in World domination bid
Defending champion Jonathan Rea is confident he can extend his 30-point lead when he competes in the fifth round of the World Superbike Championship in Imola, Italy, with practice starting today.
Imola will also see the return - if he passes a circuit medical - of Rea's fellow Ulsterman Eugene Laverty to the competition, the Milwaukee Aprilia rider having recovered from the pelvic injury sustained at the Chang Circuit in Thailand a month ago.
Despite the new balancing rules to make the racing more competitive, Rea - champion for the last three years - has won three races to date and after a successful test at Brno in the Czech Republic is hopeful of podiums in Italy.
Rea said: "After Assen and the Czech test it was good to get home and recharge the batteries. Imola is a challenging lay-out and it's also a track where we have just lacked that little piece of the jigsaw in recent years, so it would be great to try and improve on our recent Imola form.
"Of course, we will be targeting race wins, so we will work hard from the opening practice session to try to make it happen."
Imola has rarely been a happy hunting ground for Laverty, the Toomebridge man with just one podium, but one good result this weekend on the ever-improving Aprilia will have made his enforced rest worthwhile.
He said: "I've been itching to get back on the bike again. I'm motivated simply because we had been making good progress with the Milwaukee Aprilia and we can now challenge at the front of the field."
Meanwhile, Carrick rider Andrew Irwin - back in World Supersport action at Imola - said: "In Assen I took a step forward, so going to Imola I'm confident I can get back into the points.
"It's a new track for me so it'll be important to make the most of Friday practice."