Jonathan Rea powers to pole at Imola

Jonathan Rea on the Pata Honda at Imola
Jonathan Rea on the Pata Honda at Imola

Jonathan Rea will start Sunday’s fourth round of the World Superbike Championship at Imola in Italy from pole position after a blistering lap on the Pata Honda Fireblade SP.

Rea is currently in a rich vein of form having claimed his first victory of the season last time out at Assen in race two to complement his rostrum finish in the opener at the legendary Dutch track.

The Northern Ireland man took the top spot by almost three tenths of a second from Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli on the Aprilia, with Davide Giugliano (Ducati) third quickest.

It was the fourth pole position of Rea’s career and his first since Portimao in 2011.

The 27-year-old, who received his trophy from Grand Prix great and 15-time world champion, Giacomo Agostini, said: “Honestly, I didn’t really expect that. I knew we had really good pace and we were working towards the race tomorrow. But this pole position lark doesn’t really have my name on it so I’m really happy.

“The lap was really good but I just want to thank all the guys in my box who’ve been working incredibly hard. They’re making the CBR better and better and to do it in Pata’s back yard here in Italy is just great,” Rea added.

“I’m looking forward to two strong races tomorrow and hopefully we can get some good results.”

Eugene Laverty, who missed a large swathe of track time during free practice on Friday due to an electrical issue with his GSX-R1000, will start from eighth place on row three on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki.

Chaz Davies (Ducati) was fourth fastest ahead of Aprilia’s Marco Melandri and reigning champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki).

Ireland’s Jack Kennedy qualified in 19th place for the World Supersport race

after losing vital time following a crash.