News 11 Dec 2009

WSBK: Ten Kate concludes 2009 with successful Valencia test


In the final World Superbike track action of 2009, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea set the fourth fastest unofficial time in a two-day test, which concluded this afternoon at Valencia in Spain.

Despite a small crash yesterday, the 22-year-old, who finished his debut WSBK season in championship fifth place, completed 190 laps of the 4.005km Ricardo Tormo circuit with a best time of 1’34.2s as he tested a combination of new swingarm, front forks and electronics on his 2009 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade.

The Valencia test marked Rea’s first track outing since his coronation in the ‘Kings of Wanneroo’ meeting in Perth, Australia last month where the Northern Irishman won all three races on a stock Honda CBR1000RR.

Also testing in Valencia was Max Neukirchner, Rea’s new Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate for the 2010 season, continuing his familiarisation with the team and the Honda CBR1000RR – a process which started in October at Portimao in Portugal.

The German ace spent most of 2009 on the sidelines through injury but Neukirchner has been training hard and his current fitness levels are high enough for the 26-year-old to have completed 160 laps during his two days at Valencia, setting a best time of 1’34.7s.

Jonathan Rea – best time 1’34.2s

We’ve had a really constructive couple of days here and got through a lot of work. We evaluated three sets of forks with different internal specifications, a slightly modified swing arm and some different electronics, so there was a big list of things to assess. What we didn’t get much of a chance to do was combine all the good things we found into one package and we were still working through things when Pirelli asked us to test the two new tyres they had. One of them felt pretty good, but we didn’t really have the right set up to get the best out of it. Overall, I’m really happy though, because it was a big workload we had to get through.

Max Neukirchner – best time 1’34.7s

I’m really happy with this test, because it was really important for me to get more time on the bike and look for a good base setting. We only made some suspension adjustments and didn’t really test any new parts. I built up my pace slowly and only this afternoon did I really start to push a little harder when I had a good feeling and began to feel confident enough to open the throttle. This was only my fourth day with the team and I have not ridden very much since the crash at Monza in May. Of course, I still need some more time on the bike but I can go into the winter holidays with a good feeling now and continue my training, which has been quite intense recently. I did 160 laps here at Valencia and had no fitness problems; I might be a little sore tomorrow, but I’m feeling very good!

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

All the stuff that we needed to test here has been tested, and it was a lot of work to get through. The improvement from our race here in April is like the difference between night and day so it’s definitely been a good step forward for Jonathan, who has put in a lot of laps and worked really hard. We’re also beginning to find to clear direction forward with Max. We tested a lot of different settings so we will be able to narrow the window a lot more for him at our next test in Portimao in January. For now, we head back to our families in a very positive frame of mind and take this opportunity to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a very happy and successful New Year.

Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Kenan Sofuoglu has successfully completed a two-day World Supersport test at Valencia in Spain, despite the pain of a badly cut finger sustained in a crash yesterday.

Sofuoglu highsided his Honda CBR600RR on the out lap of his first session yesterday morning and required a visit to hospital to have three stitches inserted in the index finger of his left hand.

However, the Turkish rider returned to the track yesterday afternoon and had completed a total of 65 laps of the 4.005km circuit before today’s conclusion, testing a range of parts that included front forks, gearbox and electronics.

Sofuoglu was joined at the Valencia test by Italian Michele Pirro (120 laps), his new Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate for next season’s World Supersport championship, which kicks off at Phillip Island on 28th February 2010.

It was the 23-year-old Italian rider’s first official Hannspree Ten Kate Honda test following a provisional outing on the team’s Honda CBR600RR at Portimao in Portugal in October.

Kenan Sofuoglu – best time 1’36.1s

It’s been a difficult day after the crash of yesterday. A difficult test because I only had one good hand and found it really difficult to use the clutch. I was feeling so confident before I went out yesterday morning, but maybe a little too confident. I touched the white line between turns four and five and had a very big crash. I slid for a long way and my leathers are pretty bad. But, although I have been really sore today, I was able to do consistently fast laps, which was especially good after 20 laps on an old tyre. We were able to test some new parts as well and these improved the bike even more after our last test at Portimao. I’ll get some rest now and get fit again for the next test back in Portugal at the end of next month.

Michele Pirro – best time 1’36.4s

I am really happy with these two days in Valencia, which have given me a chance to improve my feeling with the bike even more after the good test we had in Portimao. I am so happy with the bike and the team and I am confident of a good season next year because this bike is so fast! I had a small crash this morning at turn two and hurt my finger, but nothing like Kenan! Maybe I pushed a bit too hard on cold tyres. I would like to thank the team and Gerrit and Ronald [ten Kate] again for this fantastic opportunity – I hope to get very good results from the very start of next season.

Ronald ten Kate – team manager

Apart from Kenan’s silly crash yesterday, we’ve had a very successful test and got through a lot of different settings and front fork specifications. It’s been full-on but our race pace has been very good and Kenan was able to do some consistent low 36s laps, so we’re very happy. After his shakedown test at Portimao, Michele has been getting more used to the bike and got through a lot of work to go after a good base setting. Our last outing of 2009 gives us a very positive feeling but we know we must still push to find even more for 2010. We wish all our friends and fans a good Christmas holiday and we’re looking forward to getting back on track next year.