|-- Lap Phillip Island with Jonny Rea --|
-- Pata Honda WSBK Team
Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) finished the final pre-race tests of the 2013 season in good shape and now the British duo are looking forward to their first points scoring opportunities at the first round of the season on Sunday February 24th.
At the two-day official organiser’s tests at Phillip Island, which were completed on February 19th, Rea was marginally the faster of the two CBR1000RR riders, sixth overall in what was a closely matched two days of competiton. The first day was held in very high temperatures, the second in much cooler conditions, with a damp track surface to start.
The Phillip Island circuit, now the traditional starting point of most SBK seasons, has been completely resurfaced recently and as it has started to bed in, it improved in grip and consistency, allowing all the top Superbike riders to better the race lap record with ease, if not quite the outright Superbike class record.
Rea finished sixth in these most recent tests and the 26-year-old now faces his fifth straight season in charge of an official Honda CBR1000RR. With ten race wins and a total of 29 podiums Rea is a seasoned rider in this category. Many changes to the electronics package on his machine, plus a new swingarm and other updated components, should keep Rea in contention for more than just race wins.
For Leon Haslam, now 29 years old, the prospect of a season back with Honda is one he relishes, having made his first ever race outing on Honda machinery in a one make championship, and having been a privateer in SBK on a Honda Fireblade in 2009. A championship runner-up on another machine one year later, Haslam is keen to show he is still a force in the series, and wants to add to his career total of three wins and 28 podiums.
The season kicks of with two 22-lap races this coming Sunday, before a long gap in the race action is filled by a test at Motorland Aragon in early April, with the race at that Spanish venue scheduled for the April 14th.
FIM Supersport World Championship Rookie Michael van Der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) finished the two day official test at Phillip Island as top Honda rider, giving him confidence as he approaches the first round of the 2013 FIM Supersport World Championship this coming weekend. Michael was fourth in a field of 35 riders in testing, a strong performance from the Dutch youngster.
Van der Mark, who was European Superstock 600 champion for Honda last year was injured in practice for his only previous ride in the Supersport class, at the Moscow round in 2012, so the Phillip Island race on Sunday 24th February will be his first proper experience of competition at this level.
Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) was 16th on the stopwatches at the PI tests, as he tries to learn the secrets of riding a 600cc machine after an earlier career move into the SBK class.
2007 125cc GP Champion Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda) was an impressive sixth overall at the tests in Australia, as he starts his first full season in WSS, having joined his PRORACE team halfway through last year.
Sheridan Morais (PTR Honda) suffered technical issues in testing in Australia but is confident that his swap to Honda power will pay off for him this year as he goes for a second career WSS podium – and more.
Alex Baldolini (Team Lorini Honda) and Raffaele De Rosa (Team Lorini Honda) have enjoyed their first tests together at PI, scoring 12th and 14th respectively in combined testing times.
Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda) was 18th in testing; Austrian David Linortner (Team Honda PTR) was 20th and the last of the top Honda riders inside the top 20 bracket, as he approaches the 2013 season for real now. Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda), a recent champion in British Supersport is now all set to race.
Balazs Nemeth (Complus SMS Racing Honda) has swapped teams but not machines in 2013, while Eduard Blokhin and the whole Rivamoto Team have taken on Honda power in 2013.
Luca Marconi (PTR Honda) is another new PTR signing, as is young Aussie Matt Davies.
Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
“We just have to get the first races out of the way and then we will see where we are. I think my team has done a lot of work and pulled out a lot of stops. In my opinion we need to step up to find the limit compared to where we were with electronics last year, but I feel there are far fewer limits with this system as a whole. We sorted out a lot of things in the very low throttle opening percentages, so today we made some good steps there. We have done a lot of work these last two days and made a lot of comments but it will not be until we go away and sit-down that we can come back with fresh new ideas we can capitalise on. For one or two laps the bike feels great with grip, then it tails off. We need to make the bike more consistent through all the race but there are many people in the same kind of boat as us. We want to make sure we are going in a better way at the end of the race, or at least able to fight with the others. The full 22-laps feels a lot right now for what we can get out of our tyres.”
Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
“I feel that I can race tomorrow if we need to but I also feel we all need to work on our race set-ups in terms of which tyres we are going to use. The final day of testing was a sort of a frustrating day, I just did a few laps on the damp track to break in brake discs, and we also just tried out the new intermediate tyres. In the afternoon we had a problem from lap one, a misfire and intermittent problem. We were supposed to try some chassis parts so it was not a clear test. I went reasonably quickly at the end, even with the intermittent problems, so in general I am really happy to have done that. I am looking forward to the race because I love the track and it gives you a good place to start the season. The pace is quick, even with the issue we had the pace was quite good, so I am happy with that.”
Michael van Der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
“It has been good so far and now we are looking at a solution for race distance. We did a complete race distance and figured out which tyre is the best. After this we have tried to make one fast lap. I am really happy to have finished testing in fourth place but I am really happy to have found a good pace for the full race. I think for the race some other guys did a race simulation so we are not really that far off. For sure everybody will go faster but we had an impressive race simulation.”
Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
“Things are coming better because I improved a second in one lap compared to this morning’s test. The top riders are more distant from us in this moment but the whole team made a good job to help improve me and my performance and I have a good possibility to improve and arrive at the first round at maybe 80%. I think the top four riders are on another level now, but behind them I think it is possible to finish inside the top ten. When I rode in Superbike I thought to arrive in the 600 Supersport would be relatively easy, but it is completely different and I have not had much time before the race - but I have a good team!”
Sheridan Morais (PTR Honda)
“I am really glad to be in this position in this team at the start of the year and I feel good on the bike. From our previous tests at Portimao and Almeria, we are on it. Now I have missed out on a lot of track time in Australia so it is going to be hard, but that is the way it is. The guys are working hard now and hopefully they find the problems that affected us in testing and then we will be sorted for the weekend.”
Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda)
“So far, all on the right track. I'm really satisfied with the work performed by the team. Some of the official bikes are very fast on this track, but I'm also still waiting for the new power specification engine. The second session was a huge turnover at the end of the day and competition in this class is huge. It was as if we were not here to test, but more like some all-important qualifying. Twice I got held up but in the end the last round still managed to set a time.”
Alex Baldolini (Team Lorini Honda)
“I’m very happy to join forces with the Lorini Team this season and to take part in the 2013 battle on board the Honda CBR600RR. I want to thank Honda Italia and Lorini brothers for having trust in me to ride such a competitive bike.”
Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda)
“This is quite a change from racing in Europe and I am enjoying it at this track. It was really hot yesterday but cooler today, which I preferred. In fact, it was a lot cooler, which was very weird with a drop of about 20 degrees or so. We are moving forward all the time but we did not end up where we wanted to be. The sector times are good but we just never strung one lap all together. We have some good info and I would be happy with a top ten on the weekend or even better.”
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