Honda Racing's Jonathan Rea is hunting down his first podium finish of the new season at Imola in Italy this weekend.

The World Superbike star narrowly missed out on a rostrum place in race two at Phillip Island in Australia last month after being outgunned by Kawasaki's Tom Sykes on the final lap.

Rea, who finished seventh in the opening race before taking fourth in race two, is currently fifth overall in the championship shake-up heading into this weekend's second round in Italy.

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With a solid points haul already in the bag after two decent results at the opening round of the championship, Rea is ready to kick on at Imola, where he registered the most recent of his eight career World Superbike victories in 2011.

"Things have been good since Australia although we have not tested again. A few of our rivals have been out, but we know Imola is a completely different circuit than Phillip Island, which is a pretty unique one for us and for our set-up," Rea said.

"Our past results have been good at Imola so I am just excited to be going. We will start from our base set-up that we took away last year, so we'll see where the weekend takes us. We have been working on a few different things on the electronics even since our Qatar test in the winter.

"We do not have a bad benchmark to work from at Imola. I hope the weather is as good as it has been on the Isle of Man recently."

Rea's team-mate in the factory outfit, Hiroshi Aoyama, will be competing at Imola for the first time.

The Japanese rider is hopeful of taking a 'big step' this weekend as he continues to adjust to the championship following his switch from MotoGP.

"We were in the top ten each time in the first round at Phillip Island. Two races in one day was a new experience for me and I was a bit nervous about it at first, but finally we ended up in a good way," he said.

"For Imola I hope we can make a big step. For sure I have never ridden there so it may be a tough weekend, especially the first day. I am sure we can improve the bike and race-by-race I will improve my feeling with the bike."

The Honda duo will take part in a Pirelli tyre test on Monday following the Imola round and have also pencilled in a test at Assen in preparation for round three of the series on April 22.