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Preview World Superbike-Supersport, Imola, Italy
Posted by: newsla on May 06, 2014 - 04:23 PM
Preview World Superbike-Supersport, Imola, Italy


Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and his team-mate Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) have many reasons to look forward to the Imola round of the FIM Superbike World Championship, after the team's first win of the year at Assen last time out.


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Rea made it 12 career victories on his Ten Kate prepared Honda when he won race two at the Dutch squad's home event. This time around it will be title sponsor Pata's home round, which will be another spur to the ever increasing confidence of everyone involved in the team.

Jonathan is now fourth in the championship battle after three intense rounds of action, from Australia to Spain to the Netherlands, and he is only 19 points from championship leader Tom Sykes (Kawasaki). Rea has three podium places to his credit in 2014 already and is eager to boost that total before heading back to his home round in the UK at the end of May.

Leon's previous record at Imola includes two podium finishes in the 2012 season, shortly before he joined the Pata Honda team for the start of the 2013 campaign. With new electronics and many new parts on his race-spec Fireblade, Haslam has been making progress through the year and is now looking to jump up to his first podium spot of the season. Haslam is ninth in the championship standings with a best 2014 finish of fifth, at the most recent race in the wet at Assen.

Like Assen the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari is yet another classic circuit to appear on the 2014 FIM Superbike World Championship trail. With the paddock hemmed in by the Santerno River on one side and occupying a location inside the city boundaries of Imola itself, the 4.936km long racetrack features some of the most evocative and challenging sections in world motorsport. Tamburello, Piratella, Acque Minerali and Rivazza are all names that resonate in the memories of all kinds of motorsport fans and in 2014 the Superbike World Championship will be the main race event at the Imola facility.

Even though the fastest corners have seen the adoption of chicanes over the decades, and other works have been carried out on certain sections of the racetrack at regular intervals, Imola is still very much a naturally sculpted venue. It is also an anti-clockwise circuit, which puts it in the minority compared to most international racing venues.

Since it first appeared on the SBK Championship trail in 2001, Imola has hosted 21 previous individual races. It should have been 22 but one race in 2005 was cancelled due to a waterlogged track surface. Honda riders have won five of those 21 races, the most recent being Rea in 2011.

There will be a one-day official tyre test for the SBK riders on the Monday after raceday at Imola, before the travelling circus heads back northwards for the next round at Donington Park in England on 25 May.


After Dutch rider Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) won the previous race at his home circuit of Assen every Honda rider in the FIM Supersport World Championship enters the forthcoming Imola round confident in their ability to put in a season best performance.

Imola will also be a home race for not only the team's title sponsor Pata but also van der Mark's ever improving team-mate Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team).

For van der Mark the win at Assen came despite suffering from a fever and after his breakthrough victory in only his second season of WSS racing he is now intent on more full points scores to move up from his current second position in the championship. He is only four points from leader Florian Marino (Kawasaki), after taking a no score, a second place and his famous Assen win.

A tremendous recovery for Zanetti from a first round no score and a painful finger injury which required a skin graft, saw him fourth at the Aragon race in Spain and then fifth at Assen, fighting for a podium finish for most of that race.
Also a WSS rookie last year, just like van der Mark, Lorenzo's best career result is third, which he took at another home circuit of Monza. In front of his fellow Italians at Imola it is now Lorenzo' s turn to go through the pressures and pleasures of racing at home.

Another Italian rider Raffaele De Rosa (CIA Insurance Honda) is the second highest placed Honda rider in the championship after putting in a third and two further points scores to appear fifth in the standings at present. Riccardo Russo (Lorini Honda) is 13th in the points and his fellow Italian and team-mate Marco Bussolotti is 18th, after having his best finish so far in 2014 of 11th at Assen.

Ratthapark Wilairot (Core PTR Honda) is finding the move to full-time WSS competition an enjoyable challenge but wants to put in more rewarding performances than the tenth and 12th places he has taken so far. He was released by his PTR team to ride in the Moto2 race at Jerez last week, simply to get more track time under his belt, before heading back to the WSS paddock in Imola. He is 17th overall in the Supersport standings, one place ahead of Bussolotti.

A fast and improving debut WSS rider for Honda in 2013, Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda) has suffered injury and misfortune almost throughout the current season but is ready to bounce back to his best at Imola, to move up from his current ranking of 19th.

The other Honda points scorers so far are Nacho Calero (CIA Insurance Honda) from Spain and Britain's Fraser Rogers (Com Plus SMS Racing).

After the Imola weekend is concluded the collective WSS championship riders will join the Superbike class competitors for the Donington Park round on Sunday 25th May. There will be no Superstock classes at the lone British round of 2014.


Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
"After Assen it is really nice to go to another circuit I really enjoy. It is also so good to be in Italy because the atmosphere at this round is one of the best of the season. Imola is a track that I have seemed to bond well with over the last few years. I am just looking forward to getting back on my bike because I enjoyed Assen so much. I am looking forward to seeing where we are at Imola on Sunday morning and we will try to make some good set-up work that will allow us to ride with the front group again."

Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
"We came to Italy right after the Dutch race and we also had Jonathan over to visit, so it has been good to be here for a while. After Assen, Imola should also be a good circuit for the Honda. I have had mixed results there over the years on different bikes but I have usually been battling for the top three places. Except for last year when it was my first weekend back after breaking my leg. All in all, I do like the circuit. At Aragon and Assen I definitely thought the CBR was a top five bike in the dry and obviously a winning bike in the wet for Jonathan. We were just a little bit of a step behind at those tracks in finding the set-up that Jonathan had. It is quite positive what he has achieved over the past couple of races and we just need to get there too. I feel pretty good about that."

Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
"After Assen it was amazing to see all the comments and messages we got. It is always difficult to get your first victory so it was great to finally win one at your home track. Now we have to keep focusing because it is so difficult to win races in WSS. I always want to win so we have to keep working on trying to do that every time. The team has had some good history at Imola and it is a track I really love even though my results were not great from last year. With the improvement we have made on the bike we should be at the front this year, as we have shown at the first three rounds. We have been at the front almost all the time. The bike is easier to ride this year so I am really looking forward to riding it again at Imola. It is a home round for our sponsor Pata and they will have a lot of guests there. Without Pata we cannot ride, so for them we will always do our best and in Italy we will try to give them the best weekend possible."

Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
"I am ready for my own home race after the team's home race at Assen last time. I am feeling positive and had a good sensation with the bike at Assen. I finished in fifth place but I was fighting for the podium even though the layout of that track is not my favourite. That was my best result there and because of that I think it was a good way to start my preparations for Imola. Both Imola and Donington are my favourite circuits so I think we have everything in place to do well."

Ratthapark Wilairot (Core PTR Honda)
"This will be my first time at Imola and I am looking forward to learning the track. I have been riding and racing a lot recently. This is part of my plan to get more experience and to improve my riding. We had a tough time at the last round so now I want to get back into the top 10 and take a good result."

Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda)
"My ankle has its ups and downs and I am still in pain. Saying that, it is getting stronger and I am feeling good heading to Imola. My plan is to get on the pace in the first session as quickly as possible and then keep that going right through to the race. I've not got great memories of Imola but I am going there to improve my view of circuit with a good result."

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