This just slipped past us:
Pata Honda returns to Spanish Superbike action
Following a seven-week hiatus since the opening round at Phillip Island in Australia the Pata Honda team returns to World Superbike action this weekend (11-13 April) at Motorland Aragon in Spain.
The team's British pairing of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will be seeking to build on the potential of the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP that was demonstrated in part at Phillip Island but which has been further developed at two Spanish tests since, at Cartagena and Jerez.
With continuing refinements to a revised electronics system and new components tested on the CBR's cultivated chassis, both riders are confident of having a strong all-round package to tackle the technically demanding 5.344km Hermann Tilke-designed Aragon track.
The World Superbike action gets underway at 11.45 local time on Friday 11 April with the first of two free practice sessions that day. Combined times from those and a third free practice session at 09.45 on Saturday morning will determine which riders progress to the afternoon's two-part Superpole session.
Race day at Aragon features a revised WSBK schedule in which the first of the two 20-lap races goes at 10.30 on Sunday morning. Race two starts at 13.10.
Motorland Aragon, Spain - 5.344km
Pole position: right
Corners: 10 left, 7 right
Weekend schedule (local times)
Friday 11 April
Free practice 1: 11.45-12.30
Free practice 2: 15.30-16.15
Saturday 12 April
Free practice 3: 09.45-10.30
Free practice: 12.30-13.00
Superpole 1: 15.00-15.15
Superpole 2: 15.25-15.40
Sunday 13 April
Race 1 (20 laps): 10.30
Race 2 (20 laps): 13.10
Jonathan Rea - championship position 7th
I really like the Aragon circuit - it's a well-designed track that I enjoy riding. We've tested there quite a lot in recent years, too, so I know my way round there pretty well. We had a good test at the end of last season and were able to improve our race pace from earlier in the year, when I finished fourth in race one. But since Phillip Island, we've had some software updates and some new chassis components that we were waiting on so we're in a much better position to go racing. Aragon's long straight might not suit the bike quite as well as it suits others, but the circuit needs a good all-round package which we definitely have with the new CBR. I'm looking forward to working with my team through the weekend to get the best set-up and hopefully, with a clean Friday and Saturd ay, we can be challenging at the front come raceday.
Leon Haslam - championship positon 11th
It seems a while ago now, but I remember Australia as being not such a good weekend for us. After a really positive test there, we had some issues with the new race-spec engines, but the team has been working flat out since to get a good base map and they've done some good development work with the traction control. As a result, the bike is now much more usable and rider-friendly so I'm really looking forward to round two at Aragon this weekend. I've never had particularly good results there but Johnny [Rea] showed some good pace in one of the races last year so we're confident that the bike can go well there. It's another race for us to keep up this development work to get the Fireblade to a place where we can challenge for podiums again.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
Since Phillip Island we have been working very hard on the overall CBR package and have had some positive results from six days of testing in Spain. We achieved all our objectives and it will be interesting to see where we are in comparison to our rivals this weekend and to see if our podium potential can be realised. I think that Jonathan's fourth place in race one last year was probably a fair reflection of where we were then. We have worked a lot on developing our braking system since last year, too, and that will be important for the heavy braking zone at the end of Aragon's long back straight. We had a good test at Aragon last November and we'll be looking to combine the settings we had then with our recent steps forward.