Eugene Laverty and Jonathan Rea seeking improvements at Misano

Eugene Laverty on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki
Eugene Laverty on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki

World Superbike stars Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty are aiming to climb the leaderboard during qualifying on Saturday at Misano in Italy after ending free practice in eighth and ninth places respectively.

Pata Honda star Rea’s best time of 1m 37.024s was 0.6 seconds off the top lap by Ducati rider Davide Giugliano ahead of the seventh round of the championship, but the Northern Ireland rider - third in the series standings - was reasonably satisfied with the progress made by his Ten Kate team on Friday.

“We turned up here with some different engine brake strategies,” said Rea, who finished one place ahead of Voltcom Crescent Suzuki rider Laverty.

“We got off to a slow start developing that and getting some base settings into it this morning. Our position of eighth might not reflect it, but we’re actually making quite good progress. I’m starting to feel like I have a bike that I can push again.

“I’ve given some good feedback to the guys and I’m actually enjoying riding. It’s a shame we’re not closer to the sharp end, but we reduced the gap to the front quite a lot in the heat of that second session and we need to do the same in the morning,” added the 27-year-old.

“I’m satisfied with our work today but we need to keep pushing.”

Defending champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) was second quickest followed by Marco Melandri (Aprilia), Chaz Davies (Ducati) and Sykes’ team-mate Loris Baz, while Alex Lowes was sixth (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).

Laverty was experiencing grip problems with the GSX-R1000 and is particularly concerned about the performance of his tyres in the first part of a race distance.

“The position is not where we want to be. Race pace we are good but we are still lacking the ability to push for one hard lap, we can’t use the grip of the tyre and it’s something we still need to work on,” he said.

“For the second half of the race I’m confident but it’s for the first half, and for Superpole tomorrow that we need to put in some more work.”