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Sep 02, 2014 - 04:10 PM
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Preview World Superbike-Supersport, Jerez, Spain
Posted by: newsla on Sep 02, 2014 - 04:07 PM
Tidbits
Preview World Superbike-Supersport, Jerez, Spain


FOCUSED HONDA PAIRING LOOK FOR STRONG RESTART IN SPAIN

Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) are equally keen to get back into action in the FIM Superbike World Championship, after a long layoff from action, punctuated only by their experiences at the Suzuka 8-Hour race.

 

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Haslam took victory in the prestigious Japanese endurance race alongside his Pata Honda team-mate from the Supersport class, Michael van der Mark and Takumi Takahashi riding the MuSASHI RT HARC-PRO Honda CBR1000RR. Rea on the other hand was less fortunate after a F.C.C. TSR Honda team-mate crashed damaging the CBR1000RR. Crash damage repaired the team continued with Supersport rider Lorenzo Zanetti, but finished well out of contention.

As the tenth round approaches for the Superbike riders Rea is sitting third overall, 64 points behind championship leader Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) and 20 points behind Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia). Jonathan has recorded four race wins and seven podiums in total this year, at a variety of circuits and in a variety of conditions.

The championship leader after the Imola race, where he won the double, Rea is not ruling anything out with 150 championship points up for grabs for any rider who wins each of the final six races of the season.

Jerez is not expected to be the easiest circuit on the calendar for Rea or team-mate Leon Haslam but both Honda riders have recent experience after testing there in the early part of the season. Rea missed the 2013 Jerez SBK race weekend through injury.

For Haslam his deepest desire is to take podium finishes before the end of the season. Currently tenth in the championship Leon is only four points from eighth place and 26 points from sixth place, with six points scoring races left to run. His Suzuka 8 Hours winning ride, for the second season in succession, has boosted his confidence for the remaining races.

The summer break saw the calendar in the SBK class go through some modifications. The planned South African round at Phakisa was cancelled but the season finale in Qatar, on 2 November, has now been confirmed. The season will now consist of 12 rounds, not the planned 14.

Jerez was used for FIM Superbike World Championship racing last season, for the first time since 1990. The 4.423km circuit in the extreme south west of Spain is already a favourite for many riders and is a popular test venue.

After the Jerez weekend there is another long wait for the next round, with Magny-Cours hosting a full race weekend between 3 and 5 October.

VAN DER MARK ON THE THRESHOLD OF ULTIMATE SUCCESS

The FIM Supersport World Championship also restarts this coming weekend at Jerez. With just a Superbike Championship race at Laguna Seca the World Supersport riders enjoyed an even longer summer break than their colleagues in the larger capacity class. Championship leader Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) and his peers had their last competitive WSS outing at Portimao on 6th July. Van der Mark won that race to move 53 points ahead of his nearest rival Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta).

With only three rounds and three races remaining now, including the Jerez race on Sunday 7th September, Van Der Mark could secure the championship title in a few days time - if he maintains a lead of over 50 points.

It has been a stellar year for van der Mark, winning four races so far, securing three other podium places and taking his second successive victory in the Suzuka 8 Hour race riding the MuSASHI RT HARC-PRO Honda CBR1000RR with team-mates Takumi Takahashi and Pata Honda World Superbike rider Leon Haslam.

As usual the on-track competition for van der Mark will come from a multitude of directions, none more so than from the other side of his pit garage, in the form of his team-mate Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team).

Winner of the Imola race in May, Zanetti is currently fifth in the championship and has realistic ambitions to finish inside the top three if results go his way from now to the season finale in Qatar on November 2nd.

After not starting the season with a permanent WSS ride Raffaele De Rosa (CIA Insurance Honda) has shown flashes of real form to sit eighth in the championship right now. He almost equalled his season best of third at Phillip Island in the opening round with fourth place last time out in Portugal. He is currently tied on 67 points with Kawasaki rider Patrick Jacobsen.

Irishman Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda) made his podium breakthrough at the previous round at Portimao, overturning some early season bad luck and injury to record second place and jump up to 11th in the championship. His aim is more upward movement in the table again this weekend and to be fighting for top three race results from now until Qatar.

Ratthapark Wilairot (Core PTR Honda) from Thailand runs the same PTR prepared CBR600RR as Kennedy and De Rosa, but with a different sponsorship package. His season best has been sixth at Sepang in Malaysia and as a long time 250cc and Moto2 racer he knows Jerez particularly well.

Marco Bussolotti (Team Lorini Honda) is once more joined by Luca Marconi in the Italian squad. Marco is still looking for a top six finish in this tough season in the midfield of the championship. He is currently 13th in the points standings, late season call-up Marconi has yet to score in his two races so far, at Misano and Portimao.

A home race for Nacho Calero (CIA Insurance Honda) will start by playing his part in the pre-event press conference on Thursday at Jerez, before he performs in front of his home crowd. He is 25th in the rankings after eight rounds.

Valentin Debise (Com Plus SMS Racing Honda), another replacement rider who did not start the season with his current team, posted points at the previous round on Portugal for 14th place and in doing so sits 26th in the championship.

There will be two one-event Honda riders at Jerez, Russian Vladimir Leonov (Rivamoto Honda) and Australian Matt Davies (AARK Racing Honda), helping to grow the entry to 26 riders.

The next round after Jerez will be at the French circuit of Magny-Cours, with race-day on 5 October.

HONDA RIDER COMMENTS:

Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
"It has been a long summer break and I am itching to get back. I think we have really improved the bike a lot this year. It is very motivating to compete inside the top three in the championship and be competitive every weekend inside the top five. The guys at the front of this series are super-fast. I am excited to go to Jerez because I missed the Jerez race last year because of a leg injury. At Laguna in July this year I ended up in a podium finishing position so it would be nice to carry on our podium ways."

Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
"It seems like an age since we went to Laguna for the last round, even though I have had the Suzuka 8-Hour race in between. I am going into Jerez thinking positively, especially after Suzuka. We have three rounds to go to maximise what we can out of the Honda. In the last test we had at Jerez I did some pretty good lap times and I was a bit quicker than I had been before. We have had a lot of bad luck in SBK this year but I am looking forward to the next races to try to get the results we deserve. We should be getting on the podiums and that is where I am aiming to be."

Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
"Every rider wants to win every race he competes in. Every weekend this year we have gone out to win. We will work for the win at Jerez again but if that is impossible we will just have to wait. With the lead we have now we can also take less risks. It is difficult for the rider to think like that but that is how it is now. We have a 53-point lead, which is not really normal, so we have to be careful of our lead. I think we have gone so far ahead at this point because the complete package is so much better than last year. I made a lot of stupid mistakes in 2013 but the team, the bike and myself have all improved a lot this year. That is the reason we have such a good flow at the moment. Everywhere we have gone we have been at the front and I hope Jerez will be more of the same."

Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
"We have our first WSS race for two months this weekend but I am lucky because I was able to race a session in the Suzuka 8 Hour race after the Portimao round. I only did one hour in the race but it was good; a new experience. Now the focus is for Jerez and to finish the season inside the top three places. It is my target and it is realistic. Florian Marino is in third place and just 13 points ahead of me with three rounds to go. For sure I want to finish on the podium again because in some races I have been fighting for a top three, but not quite made it, for very small margins. I want to stand on the podium again. We only have three races left but I will be going for a final placing in the top three."

Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda)
"It feels like a long time ago now but I am still buzzing from finishing second at Parkalgar. I think now we have shown that we can do it, and after finding an even better suspension set-up recently, we can challenge for the podiums for the rest of the season. I can't wait to get racing again at Jerez and now I've tasted the podium I want to get straight back on it. It's going to be good to be back racing with CIA Insurance Honda again after the summer break."

Ratthapark Wilairot (Core PTR Honda)
"I have enjoyed the break from racing but I have also been training very hard and practicing riding. I am totally focused on achieving a podium this year and cannot wait to race at Jerez. I have a lot of confidence right now. At the last round our bike was able to lead the race and finish second. I have been studying my team mate CIA Insurance Honda riders' data and understanding how I can get faster and fight with them for the podium."

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