Superbikes: Irish eyes smile despite the rain

Jonathan Rea will start today's two British Superbike races from pole at home in Ireland after a late charge yesterday afternoon.

Jonathan Rea will start today's two British Superbike races from pole at home in Ireland after a late charge yesterday afternoon.

The Northern Ireland rider, aptly known as "Stormy", had no fear as the rain poured relentlessly at Mondello Park.

The home hero rode his HM Plant Honda into the top spot with just over two minutes of the session remaining, and the Irish eyes appeared to be smiling as the session was red flagged just seconds later, when Shakey Byrne came a cropper on the Stobart Honda at Turn Three.

A restart was ordered, but with just 2.09 minutes to go there was no time for anyone to set a hot lap, and Rea held onto pole with his time of 1.46.776min, with reigning champ, team-mate and championship leader Ryuichi Kiyonari close behind in second.

"We've been working hard and have made some really good progress this weekend, and I've got a good feeling about tomorrow," Rea revealed.

"I like this track wet, dry, whatever, so I think we'll be all right.

"I'm not really thinking about victories, I'm looking at consistent high points finishes. I'm third in the championship, 30 points behind Lavilla in second, so I want to take as big a chunk out of that as possible so I can start closing in on Kyo too."

And Rea says he is hoping the rain continues to fall, not just for him, but for everyone else in the race.

"I honestly think it's better if it remains wet because none of us have had any dry track time here, so at least if it stays as it is, we know what it's like out there," he said.

"I think it would be best for everyone if we wake up to a wet day, because if it's dry it will be a bit of a lottery."

Rea may be keeping his fingers crossed for rain, but many other riders, fans and teams were last night concerned that the event could turn into a washout like last year.

Third on the grid today will be Airwaves Ducati 'Pocket Rocket' Leon Haslam, while Karl Harris on the Guisborough team Hydrex Honda machine rounds off the front row.

Meanwhile, Barnard Castle-based Dennis Hobbs will start the British Supersport race from third, behind Billy McConnell and Tom Grant.

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