Jonathan Rea is well positioned to challenge for a fifth World Superbike victory around the Assen circuit after qualifying on the front row for the first time this season.

Home venue for his Ten Kate Racing team, Rea has an outstanding record around the Dutch circuit, the Northern Irishman picking up four wins in six consecutive starts since 2010.

Indeed, with Rea and Pata Honda having completed many testing miles around the circuit over time, the Ulsterman was always expected to prove competitive this weekend. Even so, his run to second position behind only Tom Sykes would prove a welcome boost for a rider that has endured an otherwise troubled start to the year.

"First of all, I'm just excited to be back in a front row press conference - the last time was the end of last season. I'm looking forward to the races, though; my guys have done some work and I'm feeling very, very comfortable on the bike but we've had minimal time so far to put distance on a race tyre.

"I think we have two options we can have a look at but a lot will depend on the temperature tomorrow. I thought I could go with Tom [Sykes] this weekend and really push, but I had a big front slide in turn three and put my heart rate through the roof, so I nursed it home.

"Superpole's not really my thing, but I felt really confident at the start of Superpole 3 and went out first on a race tyre. Anyway, it's great to be on the front row for the team's home race and I just want to send a 'get well soon' message to my team-mate, Leon [Haslam], who had a big crash on Friday."

Rea's team-mate Haslam won't start the races after breaking his leg in an accident during free practice on Friday.



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