Jonathan Rea was in confident mood after qualifying in fifth place for tomorrow's World Superbike races at Assen in the Netherlands.
The Castrol Honda rider was fastest of all in the second Qualifying practice session on Saturday morning and continued his stellar form in Superpole.
With the times so close in SP1, the Northern Irishman was forced to use a set of qualifying tyres to get through and admitted that prevented him from mounting a challenge to Carlos Checa's pole position.
“Superpole 2 was fantastic and we were third fastest with good pace but then we were out of Qualifiers for Superpole 3. I tried to recycle one, which wasn't so good and went back out on a used race tyre. We should probably have used a new one but with the available quantities that wasn't an option. We're still evaluating whether to run to softer tyre tomorrow, so we needed to keep some back. But I was quite quick on the used one so I'm happy with that. The plan is still to aim for the podium in both races tomorrow.”
Teammate Ruben Xaus took a similar strategy in SP1 but, like in Phillip Island and Donington, failed to make it into the top twelve. On this occasion though, the Spaniard was just 0.122 seconds away from making the cut and is hopeful of making progress in the future.
“We're getting better but it's been a bit like Donington here – the morning warmer than the afternoon and then we lose grip. Tyre quantity has also been an issue here, so we have been changing the set up to suit the tyres that we have available, so it has been difficult. I was about one tenth from getting into Superpole 2 which was closer than Donington and Phillip Island. Tomorrow I'll try to make a good start and go for two more top ten finishes, or better. I hope from Monza onwards that the weather will be a little warmer and that might suit both me and the bike.”
Team manager Ronald ten Kate predicts a closely fought battle at the front tomorrow, and is optimistic that his leading rider will be in the thick of the action on the improved Honda CBR1000RR.
“After a difficult day yesterday, today was really quite a lot better for Jonathan and we managed to improve the bike a lot by making some rather big changes. They worked out well for him but the Superpole sessions were really strange. First the front didn't work and then the qualifier didn't work and it was all just a bit weird. Anyhow, coming to fifth position was good and we believe that there will be quite a big leading group in the races so we'll just have to make sure he's in there.”