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Second row for Rea at Donington

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Castrol Honda rider Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow’s two second-round World Superbike championship races at Donington Park in the UK from the second row of the grid after setting the eighth fastest time in this afternoon’s Superpole qualifying sessions.

Rea’s Spanish team-mate, Ruben Xaus, was unable to progress beyond the first stage of Superpole and will start from the fourth row as his compatriot, Carlos Checa, took his second pole position of the season.

Rea improved the setting of his CBR1000RR after yesterday’s tyre problems and was fastest in this morning’s second free practice session. However, he and his crew opted to use one of his two qualifying tyres in Superpole 1, which meant he was left with no qualifier in the final shoot-out with which to improve his time.

In seeking to improve his own set up for Donington’s sweeping curves and stop-start hairpins, Xaus went the wrong way and the 33-year-old was unable to improve on his best time from yesterday.

The first of tomorrow’s two 23-lap races around the re-invigorated 4.023km (2.5 mile) Donington Park circuit will start at 12.00 local time, with the second outing at 15.30.

Jonathan Rea
– P8

Today was not so bad really, although I guess we could have gone a bit faster in Superpole 1 on the race tyre so that we didn’t have to use a qualifier. But we wanted to make sure of getting into the last eight and I then had to go out on a second-hand qualifying tyre which ran out of grip pretty quickly. We’ve worked hard all day trying to cover all the bases for tyre options. With the temperature changing, we need to know which of the three combinations works best in all conditions but the track temperature tomorrow will really dictate which one we use. We still need to find some time in the final corner – I need a little bit more en gine braking at the end of the turn and a bit more punch to get out. I feel OK in the first three sectors though but it’s going to be a very tactical race. The ones who’ve worked hardest over the weekend will be the ones who choose the right tyre for the race conditions. Hopefully we’ve done our homework.

Ruben Xaus – P16

For me, this weekend is like another pre-season test. We tested during the race in Phillip Island in 30 degrees and now the conditions are much colder so we must test some more things here at Donington! The way the bike behaves is completely different here to Australia. Yesterday we were OK and had some problems in the final section of the track. We tried to improve that today, when it was much colder, and we went the wrong way and I couldn’t improve. We had grip and braking problems. As the crew said: “We know the bike, but we don’t know you so well yet.” Of course, I know myself, but I don’t know the bike so well yet! I’m much happier than I was in Phillip Island though, because there we were lost. I hope tomorrow we can make two good races and get some good top ten points and go to Assen with even more good information.

Ronald ten Kate – team-manager

We’re definitely in better shape than we were 24 hours ago. It seems we have quite some pace, but tomorrow will be all about tyres so we won’t really know how much pace until the races are done. I believe we have found ourselves a race tyre so considering yesterday’s set back I’m quite satisfied with Jonathan’s second row start. On Ruben’s side, we went in the wrong direction today. Luckily we realised that and we’ll turn things around for tomorrow when the aim will still be for him to finish inside the top ten.

2011 World Superbike championship, round two – Donington Park, UK
Final qualifying results:
1 Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati 1m28.099s
2 Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW 1m28.365s
3 Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki) 1m28.556s
4 Jakub Smrz (CZE) Ducati) 1m28.561s
8 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Castrol Honda 1m29.438s
16 Ruben Xaus (ESP) Castrol Honda 1m29.613s

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