Jonathan Rea cited changes to the wheelbase and the front end of his Kawasaki ZX-10R as the reasons for his impressive race pace on Saturday ahead of his potential clinching of the World Superbike title in Jerez.

The Northern Irishman was able to lap in the 1m 42s eleven times in FP4 before he narrowly qualified behind team-mate Tom Sykes in Superpole.

Starting both of Sunday's races from second on the grid, Rea feels his aim is to run his own pace before attacking in the closing stages.

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"Basically we changed the wheelbase of the bike a bit, we changed the angle of the front," said Rea, who needs one top-ten finish to clinch the title. "It's given me a lot more stability when the tyre drops. Before I was still competitive with the other riders but I was struggling with the drop more than normal with the rear because I couldn't push the front.

"Today in free practice four we transformed the bike. The lap time came much easier and we had a really good rhythm. We have a good pace. In Superpole I was on the third row for some races and really didn't expect this. Even this weekend we never pushed for one fast lap with new tyres.

"In Superpole I was really surprised with the lap time. It was almost perfect. I perhaps got a little too excited on the qualifying lap. In T2 I went in too fast and lost some time in sector one. I'm really happy to be on the front row because it gives us a good chance tomorrow to get a clean start and do my rhythm.

"The tyres are dropping quite a lot. At this track the tyres are difficult to stay constant. The plan tomorrow is to do my rhythm and they way we've set the bike up, we should have some more tyre on the last lap. Then it'll be my time to really attack."

Rea could be seen lapping with Michael van der Mark close behind in the first half of SP2 before the positions were reversed in the final five minutes.

The Kawasaki man revealed he was happy to let the Dutchman, "a guy that I respect", follow to gain a decent pace at the beginning of the session.

"I like Michael. He's quite a respectful guy on track. I saw him right behind me and both laps on the race tyre I heard him right behind me. He was also on a very good lap. I didn't know which position he was in but I saw my lap time and he was close.

"I was happy to give my old team-mate a little bit of help. On my first lap on the qualifying tyre he was in front of me. There are a lot of riders that refuse to ride with anybody but Michael is a guy that I respect. If you're behind him he also gives you some help."