Jonathan Rea is hoping to fulfil a lifelong ambition when he starts tomorrow's World Superbike races from the front row.
The Northern Irishman qualified third behind Max Biaggi and Eugene Laverty and is hoping to get the chance to stand on the famous podium that overlooks the pit straight.
The Assen race winner admitted that things had been far from plain sailing for him this weekend, but feels his team have got on top of their problems.
“To be honest, I'm very happy and savouring the moment to be on the front row here because we've had a bit of an up and down weekend so far. We've been working really, really hard for tomorrow's races and the tyre choice is critical again here with the temperature going up and down. The front row is really important to get away with the front group, which will be quite a group I think. A big ambition of mine is to stand on the podium here at Monza – it would be really special, so I'll be trying my hardest to achieve that tomorrow.”
However, it was a nightmare day for Castrol Honda teammate Ruben Xaus. The Spaniard didn't even make it as far as the first Superpole session after finishing the second qualifying practice down in 17th.
The 33-year-old conceded the team had gone the wrong way on set-up with the CBR 1000RR and hopes to rectify that in tomorrow morning's warm-up.
“Of course, it's been a disappointing day and there's not really much I can say. I feel OK on the bike but we tested a few things today to achieve a good basic set-up and went in the wrong direction. We're all in it together and, as a team, we are all working very hard and we must take the bad times together like we take the good times.”
“We still had some brake problems today, but also some traction issues. We weren't so far away yesterday and maybe we should have spent more time to get into a rhythm with that before trying so hard to improve it some more. Anyway, we'll see if we can find something in warm-up tomorrow and, of course, I will be trying my best in both the races.”
Ronald ten Kate is also hoping the team can make strides with the no.111 machine, while the Castrol Honda team manager is expecting big things from his leading rider.
“We've been spending a lot of time this weekend working with Jonathan on used race tyres in various combinations, so we never really knew how fast he was going to be on a soft tyre for a single fast lap. But he was really quite good at it! The front row is important here at Monza because we don't want to let the leading group get away, so we're hoping he can hop on to the high-speed train with three or four other riders. Unfortunately, things are not quite so good on Ruben's side of the garage. We can't expect a miracle overnight but we've got some other things to try in warm-up tomorrow that we hope can propel him forward in the races.”