Pata Honda rider Jonathan Rea took his first-ever podium at Motorland Aragon after finishing third in last Sunday’s opening second-round race of the 2014 World Superbike championship in Spain.
It was the 34th World Superbike podium of the 27-year-old East Antrim rider’s career, after he battled throughout the 17-lap opener to finish behind the Kawasaki riders Tom Sykes and Loris Baz.
Rea was unable to repeat his podium performance in race two, crossing the line in fifth place after a softer front tyre option left him with a loss of feeling from the front end of his Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade.
“It’s been a really positive weekend for us to go back on the podium this early in the season. It hasn’t really been a trend for us recently, so it’s given everyone a bit of a boost. We just really need to build on this.
“I really enjoy riding the bike at this circuit and we’ve made a lot of improvements since Phillip Island,” he said.
“In race one I ran into some rear tyre problems in the latter stages, but in race two we went with the softer option, which most of the grid changed to. It was working OK but unfortunately we also used the softer front for the higher temperature. I had a few engine brake problems which pushed me into the slower corners and, with the lack of feeling from the front, I felt a bit like a passenger. “I had a warning or two around mid-race, so I was kind of nursing it a bit. But we deserved two solid top fives today and I feel we can now take some momentum to Assen where we know the bike is good and build on this at a circuit I really enjoy.”
It was a tough day for Eugene Laverty on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki as he had to fight back from a poor start to eventually take fifth by the chequered flag in race one.
His chances of a podium in the second race were ended when Toni Elias crashed into him dropping him down the order. He dug deep and regrouped to take the flag in sixth.
“We salvaged two decent results today,” said Laverty. “Worst-case scenario we need to be top six in any race this year, it was a difficult weekend and we achieved that!”