Rea is embarking on only his third season of road racing and is a graduate of the Red Bull Rookies Honda programme. After two years in the British 125GP and Supersport championships respectively, Rea is the youngest rider in the Superbike class. This is indicative of the challenge that lies ahead for the determined Ulsterman.
Rea set his fastest time (0:46.809) in the closing stages of this afternoon's second official qualifying session aboard the Red Bull Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. He will start tomorrow's two 30-lap races from the fifth row of what is arguably the strongest ever Superbike grid assembled for the world's leading domestic series.
Jonathan Rea: "I feel that I am adapting well to the challenge of the British Superbike class. This is probably the biggest challenge of my career and I was caught out a bit with my first qualifying tyre. However, I bounced back into the top 20 in the closing stages and I was happy with how I responded under pressure. There was a lot of traffic out there, but that's all part of the learning process and Im looking forward to tomorrow's races it will be good to get the first one out of the way."
Qualifying: 1. L Haslam (Ducati) 45.784; 2. R. Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda Racing) 45.827; 3. S. Smart (Suzuki) 45.939; 4. S. Emmett (Yamaha) 46.010; 5. G. Lavilla (Ducati) 46.055; 6. M. Rutter (HM Plant Honda Racing) 46.061; 7. G. Richards (Kawasaki) 46.064; 8. K. Harris (Honda-Racing.co.uk) 46.115; 9. J. McWilliams (Honda) 46.286; 10. G. Mason (Honda) 46.328; 18. J. Rea (Red Bull Honda) 46.809
Laverty shows Supersport potential
Eugene Laverty has qualified on the front row for the first round of the Metabo British Supersport Championship at Brands Hatch. The talented 18-year-old Ulsterman recorded a superb time of 0:47.266 half-a-second inside Simon Andrew's lap record on his Red Bull Honda CBR600RR to finish third overall after today's two official qualifying sessions.
Laverty was only 0.03 seconds down on Tom Sykes in pole position and a further fraction behind fellow Honda rider Jay Vincent. Incredibly, there was only 0.8 seconds covering the top 15 riders and so a trademark action-packed Supersport race is expected over the 1.2-mile Indy circuit on Easter Monday.
It will be Laverty's debut in the British Supersport series. His only previous competitive Supersport outing was last year on a Red Bull Honda CBR600RR at an end of season non-championship meeting at Castle Combe. The Toomebridge teenager won a race at that event, but realises that it will be much more competitive during the first round encounter at Brands Hatch.
Eugene Laverty: "Im really happy already with how things have been going with Red Bull Honda. We've made good progress during pre-season testing and that has helped us to prepare for the first round here at Brands Hatch. It's a big jump from the British 125GP class up to Supersport, but thanks to Red Bull and Honda Racing I've got the best package for the Supersport class. The set-up on my CBR600RR is good and I've been running consistently on my Dunlop race tyres. So its fingers crossed for tomorrow and what should be the closest race of the day."
Qualifying: 1. T. Sykes (Suzuki) 47.236; 2. J. Vincent (Padgetts Honda) 47.251; 3. E. Laverty (Red Bull Honda) 47.266; 4. S. Easton (Ducati) 47.316; 5. P. Riba (Kawasaki) 47.550; 6. L. Camier (Padgetts Honda) 47.601; 7. K. Murphy (Honda) 47.604; 8. C. Jones (Honda) 47.616; 9. C. Crutchlow (Honda) 47.639; 10. R. Frost (Honda) 47.703
Jones belies rookie status
Chris Jones has qualified in fourth position for the first round of the British 125GP Championship at the 1.2-mile Brands Hatch Indy circuit. The 14-year-old rookie has continued to impress on the Red Bull Honda RS125 after completing a successful build-up to the start of the 13-round series in pre-season testing.
The Droitwich youngster was selected to compete for Red Bull Honda due to his all-round riding ability and natural talent. Confirming his status as one of the most promising young riders to appear in recent years, Jones is taking his debut season very much in his stride.
Under the experienced management structure that has been developed at Red Bull Honda, the latest rookie is thriving on the opportunity that has been placed upon his young shoulders. A blistering lap of 0:49.645 only 0.3 seconds down on James Westmoreland's pole position time will see Jones start from the inside of the front row for tomorrow's 24-lap race.
Chris Jones: "My British 125GP debut has been an incredible experience so far. I'm lucky to be in such a privileged position as a rookie with Red Bull Honda and I am determined to repay everyone for the faith that they have shown in me. Jonathan [Rea] and Eugene [Laverty] have been there and done it, so I'm benefiting from their experience and knowledge too they have been a big help. Overall, I'm looking forward to the experience of my first British Championship race."
Qualifying: 1. J. Westmoreland (Honda) 49.288; 2. K. Coghlan (Honda) 49.331; 3. R. Guiver (Honda) 49.604; 4. C. Jones (Red Bull Honda) 49.645; 5. B. Clark (Honda) 49.738; 6. C. Elkin (Honda) 49.858; 7. B. Smith (Honda) 49.875; 8. J. Morris (Honda) 49.890; 9. D. Linfoot (Honda) 49.943; 10. K. Weston (Honda) 50.033