Superbikes: Rea storms on

Ace Johnny "Stormy" Rea was back on form yesterday to snatch pole ahead of today's two British Superbike races at Croft Circuit.

Ace Johnny "Stormy" Rea was back on form yesterday to snatch pole ahead of today's two British Superbike races at Croft Circuit.

The youngster made the most of the dry but windy and dull conditions yesterday afternoon to take his second pole of the season after a strong two days around the North Yorkshire track.

Rea, aboard the Red Bull Honda machine, dominated Friday's first two practice sessions, but had slipped down to second place behind Airwaves Ducati's Leon Haslam by yesterday's third session.

But by final qualifying yesterday afternoon, under the threat of rain, it was the Irish teenager who proved he had the measure of the rest despite hard charges from Haslam and HM Plant Honda's Ryuichi Kiyonari, who had both held the top spot during the 45 minute session.

Setting a hot lap of 1:19.433min and smashing the Croft lap record, the 19-year-old said he was delighted with his pace. "I'm really really happy with that," he smiled.

"We've all been working very hard this weekend and the Red Bull Honda is handling absolutely fantastic. We've had time to go out there and get some decent track time on race tyres before we even got on the qualifiers, and once we got the Qs on we were flying.

"It puts us in a good position for the races. We know the bike can put in fast laps when need be and we know we've got a great set-up on the race tyres now.

"It's pretty windy out there and it is quite hard work but I'm confident that we've got a superb package ahead of the two races and I think we're set for a good result.

"The front row is dominated by the Dunlop runners as well so it seems we've got everything working just right for us at the moment. It'll be all about how raceday pans out and I'm really looking forward to it."

Second on the grid for today's two races is Haslam, who also currently sits second in the title chase on 269 points. The "Pocket Rocket" has been fast all weekend around the demanding Croft track, but could only manage a best of 1:19.567 at the chequered flag.

"The bike feels good around here and I think we've been there or thereabouts all weekend," he said. "Yeah, naturally I'm a little bit disappointed not to have made pole but Johnny was really storming out there and we have to just be happy with what we've achieved today and try to capitalise on it at the green light."

Third on the grid is championship leader Kiyonari, while reigning champ Gregorio Lavilla rounds off the front row.

But it was bad news for York-based Scott Smart, who has been sidelined for at least four weeks after a smash in earlier practice. Scotty dropped his Vivaldi Racing Suzuki heading into the Complex part of the track, suffering a broken wrist and collarbone.

"I'm very sore, very p***ed off and absolutely gutted," the fan's favourite told the Sunday Sun. "The weather forecast has suggested rain tomorrow and I'm always one of the best in the wet.

"I've also historically been pretty good around here and I could've had two decent results here. Now I'm out of it, and am probably out for the next round too so I can't even begin to tell you how upset I am."

In Supersport, Guisborough's Dennis Hobbs will start from fifth on the grid, after just being knocked off the front row in the dying seconds of qualifying late yesterday afternoon.

Meanwhile in the Superstock class, local boys Paul Veazey and Chris Coates will line-up 23rd and 26th respectively, while Michael Hill was disappointed to only manage 21st quickest in the 125GP class.

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