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Pata Honda completes pre-season preparations
The Pata Honda World Superbike and World Supersport teams have finished pre-season testing in preparation for this weekend's first-round championship races at Phillip Island in Australia.
The World Superbike pairing of Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea today completed their final pre-season test after two days lapping their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machines around the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit in warm and dry conditions - certainly more favourable than their last two tests in Europe.
In spite of a crash which prevented his participation in most of this afternoon's final test session, Haslam finished the Phillip Island test with the eighth-fastest time. Rea was less than two hundredths of a second behind his team-mate as both continued the development of a revised electronics system and new components.
Pata Honda's Michael van der Mark and Lorenzo Zanetti have also been testing at Phillip Island, refining their Honda CBR600RRs in readiness for their second seasons in the World Supersport category.
Dutch ace van der Mark ended the test with the third-fastest time, less than half a second behind three-time World Supersport champion Kenan Sofuoglu, while his Italian team-mate Lorenzo Zanetti was tenth fastest.
The season proper begins for Pata Honda at Phillip Island this Friday, 21 February with the first World Supersport free practice session opening at 10.00 local time. The World Superbike riders will take to the track at 11.45 in a revised event format, which sees the first three practice sessions timed for Saturday's Superpole.
The 10 fastest riders will qualify automatically for Superpole 2, while those with the 11th to 20th fastest times will also contest Superpole 1 - the two fastest from that session moving into Superpole 2 to determine final grid positions.
The Pata Honda team has produced a short preview for this weekend's opening round of the 2014 World Superbike championship at Phillip Island, featuring interviews with Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and team manager Ronald ten Kate. The video can be viewed by clicking on the following link:
Leon Haslam - Test lap time: 1m30.798s
It's been a good two days here after a tough pre-season with bad weather and new components. Since we got here though, everything has been running smoothly and we've been making good progress and taking the correct steps. We did some race runs on the first day yesterday and the time I did this morning was on an old tyre. This afternoon I had a big high-side on my first flying lap and missed the whole session. I'm pretty happy that my left leg stayed in one piece, but my backside is pretty sore! The temperature got up this afternoon and no-one was able to go any faster, so I think we can go into the weekend on a positive note.
Jonathan Rea - Test lap time: 1m30.813s
It's clear that we're starting the season in much better shape than last year but it's so, SO competitive. It's actually quite exciting! There are a few guys who've got a bit more ultimate pace than me, but Phillip Island is a race where you really have to work for the full 22 laps. Today, we focused more on that and, to be honest, we still have some work to do - quite a lot with the chassis to find a good balance for the circuit which demands a unique style of riding compared to European circuits. I also need to sort the final sector because until that point on the track I'm quite competitive. But with everything so close, I can't afford to give away three tenths in one sector. We'll take a good look at that and see what's what. The weekend should be quite exciting because nobody is head and shoulders above anyone else - i t's very tight at the top!
Michael van der Mark - Test lap time: 1m33.918s
I'm quite happy, and compared to last year, we have made some great steps with winter testing. I am really happy with the bike, it's easy to ride and I think we can find some improvements for the race weekend. If we can have the race at full distance on the new Pirelli tyre I think we will have a good pace. Compared to my first visit last year to Phillip Island, it took only three or four laps to find the marks on the track and I'm really happy to be with the same team and on the CBR600RR like last year. It makes everything much easier. With the steps we have made I want to be fighting for race wins and even the championship this year. It's going to be difficult - especially with Kenan [Sofuoglu] - and, after the test, we can see some other guys are fast, too. But I'm normally quite good over race distance and, if we can cl ose the gap to Kenan, I think we can fight for the win.
Lorenzo Zanetti - Test lap time: 1m34.591s
This morning at the test was not too bad and already I got to the same fastest lap time as I had last year. I think we were going in a good way but we had the same problem with the tyre over longer distances as other riders. I tried to do a race simulation with the new Pirelli tyre this afternoon but I was stopped by a red flag. When I restarted, I had a problem with the bike which I thought at first was the new tyre but it wasn't, so we are trying to find out what it was. I had a little crash, so the guys are rebuilding the bike, but I am looking forward to the weekend.
Ronald ten Kate - team manager
We've done a lot of work this winter and now we've completed the last test before the season starts. We have made a huge effort with the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP, especially on electronics control. Now we've tested against all the other teams and we're pretty satisfied. We're very happy with Leon's performance here - he's done a good job and matched Jonathan's times and he's also very close to the front runners, so that's really positive. It took us a little longer to figure things out and find the right balance for Jonathan, but he has also made some good progress here and the times are really close. With Supersport, our winter has been about fine-tuning things like electronics and suspension. Michael is looking strong and Lorenzo is in touch with the front runners, so we're looking forward to the racing.