Rea sets the pace at Jerez despite uncharacteristic crash
Jonathan Rea was back on top of the timesheets at Jerez yesterday in the penultimate round of the World Superbike Championship, despite an uncharacteristic crash during the afternoon free practice session.
The Ulsterman, who recently won the World title for a record third successive time, had earlier set the fastest time of the day in the opening session, but inside the first 10 minutes of session two he tumbled through the gravel after being high-sided from his Kawasaki at turn eight.
He was quickly back on his feet, and although holding a wrist, got the machine back to the garage with his pit crew working hard to get him back on track within half an hour.
It was his opening session time of one minute, 40.291 seconds that set the mark for the day and the only other rider to come close was team-mate Tom Sykes, who was over half a second slower.
Eugene Laverty was sixth fastest overall.
Rea said: "The bike worked well and we made some good changes. Step by step, we are getting into an area where we can use the softer rear tyre and that is fine.
"I had a strange crash, only on my second lap in the afternoon, not doing anything silly. It caught me off guard. The bike was quickly fixed and we were able to get 20 minutes of track time, which were important."
Qualifying takes place this morning ahead of the opening race this afternoon.
Meanwhile, in the opening AJ Plumbing Superbike race of the Sunflower Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt yesterday, Glenn Irwin, on the PBM Be Wiser Ducati, took a one and three quarter second win over Michael Laverty, who was making a confident start on his return to the Tyco BMW fold.
Danny Buchan came home in third position, two seconds clear of Alastair Seeley, with Carl Phillips fifth and Irish Superbike champion Charles Stuart sixth.
Irwin, who was fastest in qualifying, and Laverty were credited with the fastest lap of the race at one minute, 5.809 seconds, close to record pace.
This bodes well for today's second Superbike race and the feature Sunflower Trophy race, with Irwin looking to defend his title and Laverty seeking his sixth victory in this prestigious race, which is being sponsored by Jim Finlay for the 40th year.
Dundrod's Robert Kennedy will start the two Supersport races from pole position, while John Holden led sidecar qualifying.
Racing is set to commence at 10.20am this morning with the Sunflower race at 1.20pm.