Jonathan Rea on Misano mission to bolster World Superbike title bid

Pata Honda rider Jonathan Rea
Pata Honda rider Jonathan Rea

Misano holds mixed emotions for Pata Honda World Superbike title charger Jonathan Rea, who has experienced highs and lows at the famous Italian track.

The 27-year-old clinched his maiden WSBK victory there in 2009 but suffered a badly injured wrist in a crash at Misano two years later.

Rea, currently third in the championship table ahead of this weekend’s seventh round of the series, took a runner-up finish in 2012 when the championship last visited the Italian circuit and is hoping for more of the same on Sunday.

“Misano is a circuit with mixed emotions for me because I injured my wrist quite badly there in 2011, but the highlight will always be memories of my first World Superbike win in my debut year in 2009,” said the Ulster rider, who clinched a stunning double at Imola in May to force his way into title contention.

“I love the track layout and the atmosphere at Misano and it’s in a beautiful part of the world. We’ve struggled a bit at the last two rounds so we’re hoping that the circuit will suit the new Fireblade SP.

“The team and I certainly learned a lot at Sepang and we’ll be working hard all weekend to get back to podium ways.”

Rea is 22 points behind reigning world champion Tom Sykes after the first six races and only nine behind Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli in second as the Honda star aims to turn up the heat in his quest to stake his claim for the world crown.

“I’m really excited about this round because it marks the halfway point in the season,” he said. “With three races now in fairly quick succession, it’s important to maximise our performances before we head into the summer break.”

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty has also performed well at Misano in the past, finishing on the rostrum twice in his World Supersport days, securing a victory in 2010.

The 28-year-old, who recently tested Suzuki’s new MotoGP machine at Okayama in Japan and Phillip Island in Australia as Laverty throws his hat into the ring for a place in the factory team for 2015, returned to the rostrum last time out at Sepang with a confidence-boosting ride to third place and is seeking more podium plaudits this weekend.

“Our podium finish at Sepang gave us a much-needed boost after such a tough run of late. We’re really beginning to understand what I need from this bike and so I feel that we can be strong over the next few rounds,” said Laverty.

“My aim is to finish on the podium again in Misano and keep working our way back towards the top step. I’m targeting a race win before the summer break to bring Voltcom Crescent Suzuki back where we belong.”

Following Sunday’s race at Misano, the next World Superbike rounds take place at Portimao in Portugal on July 6 and Laguna Seca in the USA on July 13 before the series enters a long summer break, resuming again at Jerez in Spain on September 7.