Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) overcame the effects of a fast and heavy high-side fall in practice to post a ninth and then a much-improved fifth at the FIM Superbike World Championship races at Imola. Both races at round Ducati rider Carlos Checa, who now holds a narrow championship lead, won two.
- Jonathan Rea
- Jonathan Rea
Rea, who still qualified seventh after making it all the way to superpole three, simply had the wrong tyre on for the conditions in race one – cool after two days of sunshine in qualifying. In race two he held a good pace and closed in on the leaders at a circuit he won a race at last year. He is now sixth in the championship rankings, with 40 points.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team) had never even seen Imola before his first practice experiences and he missed Superpole qualification, starting 23rd on the grid for each of the 21-lap races. He finished 18th in race one, and went out with a technical issue at turn four on lap 13, while sitting 18th again in the second race.
Lorenzo Alfonsi (Pro Ride Motorsports Honda) retired from each race in his first race weekend with his new team. He had been 25th on the grid at his and his team’s home race as he had no testing time available before this competitive weekend.
Two Honda Riders On The Podium As Pole Man Lowes Takes Second
Pole position rider Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) tried everything he knew on the final few laps of the FIM Supersport World Championship race at Imola to get past eventual winner Fabien Foret (Kawasaki), but he could not get into a position to make his final move. In finishing second by only 0.574s Lowes promoted himself to second in the championship, on a day when lots of top names and new talents experienced some vastly differing results.
Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda) was ninth on lap one, having been 11th on the grid, but rode through with good pace to set-up a final lap struggle with Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda). Quarmby came out on top to record his first podium finish, but he only beat Tamburini by 0.004s after their dramatic exit from the final chicane.
Another two Honda riders finished inside the top eight places. Balazs Nemeth (Racing Team Toth Honda) was seventh and Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini Honda) eighth, the latter riding though from 12th on the grid. Nemeth had qualified ninth.
Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) had high expectations of a podium finish after qualifying fifth, but he was forced in to change a rear tyre after only five laps. He went back out on track to set a new lap record of 1m, 51.952s, but lost so much time in the pits he finished 20th and out of the points.
Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) was looking good for a top four finish, but fell on lap six, at the infamous final chicane. Martin Jessopp (Riders PTR Honda) had to take a ride-through penalty for cutting the last chicane, while Lukas Pesek (PRORACE Honda) finished one place behind Jessop, in 18th place, having qualified 23rd.
Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda) retired in the pits after a great start that saw him sixth for a time. Pawel Szkopek (Bogdanka Racing Honda) broke his right tibia and tibia in a free practice crash and will require surgery to fix the fractures before he can consider coming back to racing.
David Latr rode for SMS Racing Honda this weekend, but retired. South African Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda) was disqualified for not coming in for a black flag penalty.
- Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team)
Race result: 9th / 5th / Championship position: 6th
- “Well, it finished better than it started, for sure. In the first race, we flat-out picked the wrong tyre – we didn’t do so much work on the hard tyre in the practices so we were reluctant to go with it. Also, this was the first temperature change we’d had over the weekend to very cold. But it’s been a bit of a frustrating weekend, to be honest, because our pace here last year was good enough for a win. Our pace this year is the same, but there’s two or three guys at the front going faster. If we don’t have a big improvement, then it’s hard to find that half-second. All in all, I’m happy to have points on the board in both races, and I’m really pleased with the way I rode in race two. I got messed up with my rhythm in the first laps when some guys put me out at the chicane, but I put my head down and got back to the group. When I cut through them and got some free track I was able to get to the front comfortably at the end. I’m happy with my riding and happy that we have a test here tomorrow and then a two-day test at Assen to try and find the front feeling that I’ve been lacking.”
- Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team)
Race result: 18th / DNF / Championship position: 13th
- “It’s been a very difficult weekend for me. It was my first time racing at Imola and, of course, that doesn’t help to set up the bike but, anyhow, we set out to try and find a good feeling. We couldn’t really find one, but we started the first race and, until mid-race, my pace was not too bad so we could catch up to 12th position. Starting from 23rd position, that wasn’t so bad. But then the tyre started to drop and I started missing some gears and we ended up in a not very good position. For the second race we changed the engine in case of the gearbox and we expected a better result. Feeling-wise, it wasn’t so bad, but from the middle of the race, the engine started to slow a little bit and, in the end, it stopped. So, it was not really a happy weekend but for the next race at Assen, I know the track a little bit so I hope we can have a better weekend.”
- Lorenzo Alfonsi (Pro Ride Motorsports Honda)
Race result: DNF / DNF / Championship position: -
- “In practice things were not so easy as we only had limited time to get used to working with the bike. In race one we had a problem with the clutch and in race two we think that maybe a sensor was not working properly, so the team is checking that now.”
- Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda)
Race result: 2nd / Championship position: 2nd
- "That was a tough race. We changed the bike a bit for today and the team gave me a bike that as capable of winning. Fabien was great last year at this track and this year he did not put a foot wrong. I nearly matched his times towards the end, but I could not go any faster to catch him, but fair play to all of us, and I am glad to get my first podium of the year. I made a good start from pole and had to control the race from the front. Fabien is a fantastic rider and he's always good at this circuit so well done to him for the win. We're getting closer and I feel good and confident. I didn't make any mistakes in the race and the bike and tyres were working well until the end. We're now second in the championship so I'm really looking forward to Assen.”
- Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda)
Race result: 3rd / Championship position: 4th
- “It is amazing to get third and I did not expect to get onto the podium from my starting position. I pushed hard this weekend and I cannot say thank you enough to my team because the bike was good this weekend. What an amazing race day after getting on the podium. My bike was all good and yesterday we did not know which tyre to run and we made a good decision in the end. The team was awesome and I have never been so happy in a long time racing. It got difficult at the end so I had to get my head down and I knew Tamburini was close. I block-passed him on the last corner and came out in the wrong gear so had to get my weight forward and try to get to the line in front of him which I did - just.”
- Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda)
Race result: 4th / Championship position: 8th
- “After a tough weekend in Australia we had a good one here, because we arrived with a lot of determination to succeed. Our bike worked well this weekend and the only problem was that I got a not so good start. We made a wise tyre choice so I was able to keep up a good pace at the end and make up places. Overall I am happy with our performance but it would have been a very important thing for everybody in our team if we could have reached the podium. We came so close!”
- Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini Honda)
Race result: 8th / Championship position: 13th
- “I had a very strong race, hard but very good. We almost finished our fuel at the end so that had an effect on the last three laps. But it was good to make a positive start to the ‘European’ season and I took my first points to start my championship campaign properly.”
- Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda)
Race result: 20th / Championship position: 6th
- “As soon as I went out directly the tyre had no grip at the start. I tried to regroup and about three laps the tyre started to go and about five laps in the tyre was just completely gone. We came into the pits and put on a new tyre. I made a new lap record and stayed in good lap times the whole way. There is nothing more we can do or say.”
- Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda)
Race result: DNF / Championship position: 9th
- “I made a mistake and crashed I think touched the kerb a little bit too much maybe, with too much angle. I had some chatter and it was my mistake. I was not so good before this and the gap from the first group started to be bigger. I had some movement and some sliding and maybe I did not take the good tyre choice. Anyway, it is on to Assen and I hope to get a better result there."
- Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda)
Race result: Disqualified / Championship position: 20th
- "I made a bad start and dropped down a bit, but quickly recovered a few positions. Then I tried to pass another rider and had to go straight through the last chicane, which dropped me down to 17th. I worked my way up to seventh again and was closing in on the riders ahead, but then I saw the black flag. I never saw the penalty board and it's a pity because I had a really good pace and I was very happy with the race until then. Overall it was still a good weekend and I hope that we can go to Assen now and show what we can do.”
- Martin Jessop (Riders PTR Honda)
Race result: 17th / Championship position: -
- "I am disappointed with that result. I couldn't make the chicane and went through the gravel and lost time and position, which was bad enough, and then they slapped me with a ride through penalty. I'd hindered myself already and then you get a ride through as well, which is the last thing you need. Looking at the time I lost with the ride through I would have been in the points around 13th - but that is always ifs and whats. I am disappointed, but determined to do better next time."