News 17 Jul 2009

WSBK: Ten Kate Honda riders lead Superbike and 600s in Italy


Jonathan Rea has put himself on top of the timing sheets after setting the fastest time during a two-day World Superbike championship test at Imola in Italy. The series will return to race at the historic circuit near Bologna on 25-27 September for the first time in three years.

Riding at Imola for the first time, and in temperatures of more than 36 degrees, Rea’s best time of 1’48.670s was two tenths faster than second placed Michel Fabrizio, while his Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate, Carlos Checa, finished the test in 11th place.

As well as evaluating tyres for Pirelli, the test represented the team’s first real opportunity to undertake an extended test with new technical partners, Andreani Group, since changing to Ohlins suspension prior to the Misano, Italy round in June.

Jonathan Rea – best lap 1’48.670s

It’s been a good couple of days here at Imola, which we started with a really different approach. Instead of trying to change things from the start, we just waited until I was really up to speed. That took most of the first day, when we really only changed one thing. We started trying some new stuff this morning and I was able to run consistently in the top three and we were able to confirm the good base setting that we found at Misano. After that, we just fine tuned things, but it was really motivational to be at a new track with everything fresh. I was even quick through the sector with the chicane in it, and slower corners and chicanes are normally my weaker points. All in all, it’s been good and I want to thank the team for all their work in changing the approach to work here. We got another boost when Kenan set the fastest Supersport time, so I think we can go to Brno next week with some confidence.

Carlos Checa – best lap 1’49.736s

I think we did a good job here at Imola. It’s been ten years since I last rode here, but I like the circuit and even the new chicane is quite good. We have found something for a base setting here, although we still have some more work to make the rear a little more stable. It’s been good to spend some time working with our new suspension technicians outside a race weekend, and I think we are in good shape to move forward at Brno next week.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

Actually, we are quite happy with Carlos’s overall pace, which is pretty good, even though he looks a little further back than he actually is. We have some very useful data now, as we have concentrated on looking for something like a base setting and finding out which areas to concentrate on with the new suspension. We have even tried new things when the bike was really going well, just to see what reaction it gave – it’s paid off very well. We’ve done longer runs on various tyres, but everything has really been geared around the new suspension, and two of our technicians spent a couple of days at the Andreani factory near Misano earlier this week to really understand better how everything will work with our bike.

Ten Kate Honda Racing’s Ryuichi Kiyonari has set the 12th fastest time at a two-day World Superbike championship test which concluded at Imola in Italy today.

The Japanese ace lapped the circuit near Bologna in a time of 1’50.226s as he became accustomed to riding his Honda CBR1000RR with full Ohlins suspension for the first time.

Ryuichi Kiyonari – best lap, 1’50.226s

Although my lap time doesn’t look very fast compared to the others, I am very happy with the two days we have had to test the new suspension here at Imola. I am never the fastest rider when I go to a new circuit, but I like Imola and we had a chance to try lots of different things and learn how they work with the bike. I didn’t use a qualifying tyre but just tried to concentrate on learning the circuit and getting comfortable with the new suspension.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

After Misano and Donington, Kiyo-san is now completely Ohlins with the rest of the team and we have found a lot of positives during this two day test. He is really very precise about the setting he is comfortable with and we are still looking for that. However, I think we’re close and we can go to Brno with a good base from which to start.

With temperatures in the high 30s, Kenan Sofuoglu has emerged as the fastest rider at the end of a two-day World Supersport championship test at Imola in Italy.

The Turkish rider topped the time sheets with a lap of 1’51.552s around the revised circuit near Bologna, ahead of current series leader Cal Crutchlow and second placed Eugene Laverty, who was third fastest at the Imola test.

Sofuoglu’s Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate, Andrew Pitt, set the sixth fastest time on his Honda CBR600RR as the team continued to become more familiar with the new Ohlins suspension it has been running since the Misano, Italy round of the championship last month.

Kenan Sofuoglu – best lap 1’51.552s

I am very happy to be back here and to be back on top. We have got through a lot of work these two days and it has been good to work with the new suspension without having to worry about putting in a fast lap for qualifying. Everything has worked really well and now I am much more comfortable with the new equipment we have. I am looking forward to next week’s race in Brno where I am sure that Crutchlow and Laverty will be strong again. But we can start from a stronger position, I hope, and look for a good result.

Andrew Pitt – best lap 1’53.612s

It’s been really hot here, so I’m not sure what we can bring back in September, when it’ll be something like 15 degrees cooler. But we got a lot of stuff done and learned lots about the new kit, including what NOT to do! We concentrated on the rear and only used one bike for nearly the whole two days. I jumped on the spare with a slightly different front setting near the end of the test which worked, but I only got one go at it. I need a little more confidence in the front to suit my riding style but we’re definitely getting there. Kenan and I were going in quite different directions with set-up, so it’s interesting, if a little disappointing, so see him that far ahead. But I think we’ll know which way to go next week.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

We’ve been running the new Ohlins front forks here in Imola and I’m pleased that it’s been working really well. The new forks have definitely lifted us up to the next level, but the really good thing is that there’s still quite a bit more to come. The setting is just about OK at the moment, but there is definitely a lot more potential than we thought before. I think we can travel to Brno in a good frame of mind, even though we know it will present new challenges for us. But we now have a good base from which to start work there.

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