Jonathan Rea says he wasn’t expecting to blow away the previous Suzuka qualifying lap record by almost a full second but feels the lap will ultimately not prove to be too important given the challenge of the eight-hour endurance race.

The reigning World Superbike champion lit up the times in his second qualifying practice session on the #11 Kawasaki Team Green bike with a 2m 05.168s – almost a full second faster than the previous pole record set by Pol Espargaro for Yamaha with a 2m 06.000s in 2015.

Rea, who claimed victory at Suzuka in 2012 with Honda, says the stunning time came as a shock despite a relatively trouble-free fast lap but warns it will have little relevance to the race.

“It wasn’t that important but it was nice, a nice surprise, but I didn’t expect to go that fast,” Rea said. “With the qualifying tyre and the previous record being 2m 06.000s I thought a middle 2m 05s would be good but to do it today and in qualifying practice was mad.

“It was a pretty good lap though, I didn’t make too many mistakes. In a 2m 05s lap it is a long lap so there is a lot to do and a lot of corners.

“I didn’t make too many mistakes and then I found a slower guy at Spoon and I kind of compromised my line just a little bit but I knew I got sector three nailed so I could afford not to be too aggressive there. It worked so that was nice. I initially though it was 2m 06.1s because it is a digital dash so I thought one of the lines had gone missing!”

Rea has also sharpened his attention on the final hour of the race, having seen his Kawasaki squad and the defending Suzuka champions #21 Yamaha Factory Racing Team well matched for race pace, with the fight for victory potentially going down to the final hour and the last stint.

“Generally in endurance racing the race finds it feet before the last hour but you can never be too careful really,” he said. “If it does then we need to be ready.

“I am not that experienced at endurance racing so I am trying to readjust. I did little to no testing, the first test I did here was in the sessions, not an open track so I haven’t had too much mileage so I am trying to readjust to everything.”



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