Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea topped both free practice sessions at Aragon in Spain on Friday to lay down a marker ahead of Sunday’s second round of the World Superbike Championship.
Rea posted the fastest lap on his CBR1000RR Fireblade SP in warm and sunny conditions in the afternoon to take provisional pole, lapping in 1m 58.180s to hold off Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes by two tenths of a second.
Welshman Chaz Davies was third quickest on for Ducati followed by Sykes’ team-mate, Loris Baz, Davide Giugliano (Ducati) and Aprilia’s Marco Melandri.
Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli, who leads the championship after taking a victory and third place finish at Phillip Island in February, was next followed by Eugene Laverty in eighth position on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki.
Laverty, winner of the opening race at Phillip Island, was 0.791s adrift of the top spot on the GSX-R1000, while his team-mate and circuit rookie Alex Lowes was 11th fastest.
Pacesetter Rea, who made significant gains with the Honda’s chassis and electronics during two tests in Spain during the seven-week hiatus after the opening round, said: “I’m quite satisfied with today - it’s been a really good start to the weekend for us. We’ve got quite a good base already, but I still need to work on optimising our engine braking quite a lot.
“The last time we were here it was quite good, but maybe a change in conditions has thrown some other issues into the mix. We can work a bit more on chassis settings tonight but, for day one, I’m quite happy with my out-and-out pace,” he added.
“With the change in race day schedule, we need to do a long run tomorrow morning to work with a cooler race-one temperature in mind.
“We’ve got two rear options to check and see if our preferred tyre will work in cooler conditions around 10.30am. So, after a longer run in the morning, I’ll get ready for Superpole.”