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Honda duo aiming high in Moscow
The Pata Honda pairing of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam are preparing for this weekend's (19-21 July) eighth-round World Superbike championship races at Moscow Raceway in Russia.
Following last season's inaugural World Superbike event in Russia, this weekend marks the championship's second visit to the tight 3.931km circuit which lies 80km to the west of Moscow, with Sunday's opening 25-lap race marking the halfway point of the 2013 SBK season.
Rea is in good form, having enjoyed podium finishes at each of the last two rounds in Portugal and Italy, but the 26-year-old did not enjoy good fortune during his last visit to Moscow Raceway. Rea crashed out of race one last season and came home seventh in the second outing after being taken out by another rider.
Haslam, too, had his second race terminated by another rider last season and had only one sixth place finish to show for his efforts. However, the 30-year-old is feeling stronger in the left leg that is still recovering from an early-season fracture and he tested last week alongside his Pata Honda team-mate for the forthcoming Suzuka 8-hour race which takes place just one week after this weekend's Moscow SBK event.
I was pretty sore after Imola and went straight into testing there on the Monday after the race, followed by the Suzuka test. But it all went well and Suzuka was actually a little easier and less physical with the lower power from the endurance bike. It was nice to get home though, and to enjoy some good weather. I'm really looking forward to Moscow despite disappointing results there last season with a couple of crashes. But we were at the sharp end and competitive and the circuit should be good for the Honda. Hopefully, I'll be able to ride it a little more normally this weekend as I'm able to put some more weight through the pegs, even though it's through my heel rather than the front of the foot. But it'll definitely be better than at Imola.
It's been nice to have a few days relaxing in this good weather because it's been pretty flat-out since Imola, with the test there and then a couple of days at Suzuka. Moscow's a unique circuit - tight and twisty and not necessarily the favourite of many riders. But I think it could play to the strengths of the CBR, especially the first two sectors. We struggled a bit at the end of the lap last year, but I think we've got some ideas on how to deal with that. I'd be happy to continue the podium form we've had in the last couple of rounds but it's important for us to string two good results together. At the last two races we've been strong in the first two days but then something's gone wrong in one of the races. I'm confident that we've addressed problems that we faced earlier in the season, so I hope that will allow us two good results on Sunday.