News 2 Sep 2009

WSBK: Rea eyes podium position for Honda in Germany


Round 11 of the World Superbike Championship takes place at the 5.137km Nürburgring circuit in Germany this coming weekend with three Honda riders inside the top eight positions; the highest placed being Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) in fourth.

WSB rookie Rea took his debut race win at Misano in June and now has a clear target in mind for Germany, and the rest of the championship rounds, mixing it with the podium riders each time out.

Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) made up ground in the overall championship fight in the World Supersport class at the previous Brno round, cutting long-time leader Cal Crutchlow’s advantage to 17 points. Laverty has never raced at the Nürburgring before, but was able to complete a short test session recently, which should allow him to save time in practice for what is yet another crucial round.

Nürburgring now hosts WSB for the second time in the most recent history of this race series, although it has been used before in earlier times. Located immediately adjacent to the former GP venue of the Nordschleife, the ‘new’ Nürburgring is something of a modern classic, with a great variety of corners and elevation changes.

Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) has experienced some strongly contrasting fortunes this year, having posted two fine wins yet struggling unexpectedly at some other rounds. He is currently third in the rankings, 40 points from second place and 57 from the lead.

Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) was the top ranked Honda rider for some time this year, but has recently slipped back to sixth place overall. His most immediate target is Max Biaggi, 20 points ahead in fifth place. Haslam arrives in Germany looking to add to his total of four podium finishes in 2009 so far.

A remarkable ride to second place at Brno last time out was the best finish for Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) since a runner-up spot in round three at Valencia. His 20 Brno points helped place him fifth in the championship, just ahead of race winner, Fabien Foret.

Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) rode well at Brno on his ever-improving technical package to go eighth overall, with his fellow Ten Kate rider Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) now 11th in the standings. Checa was second in race one at Brno, jointly his best individual result of the year.

American star John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) has had good reason to enjoy his summer break, as he used the time to help his seriously injured hip heal back to its previous strength. He is another Nürburgring new boy, as this is his first WSB season. A great, if unexpected, mid-season introduction to WSB for Matthieu Lagrive (Honda Althea CBR1000RR) has seen him improve his go 19th in the standings after only three rounds.

In Supersport reigning champion Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) is out to regain the form and machine set-up that allowed him to secure two podiums in the first two races of the year. He won the Nürburgring race last year, on his way to his second world championship success. Mark Aitchison (Althea Honda CBR600RR) is two places behind his countryman Pitt in the current order, ninth overall.

Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) is one of the riders who has good memories of the Nürburgring track from last year, while some new technical parts will also help the challenge Gianluca Vizziello (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR), who is currently 16th overall.

Round 12 of the 14 round season for both WSB and WSS classes takes place at Imola, between 26 and 28 September.

WSB Rider comments:

Jonathan Rea: “The Ten Kate Honda package in Brno felt really good, so we’ll just concentrate on fine tuning it for Nürburgring when we go out on Friday after this long break. The guys back in the workshop never stand still though, and I know the data boys have been looking closely at the electronics package, so there’ll be some new things to try for sure. I’ve had one race win this year and, although it wasn’t gifted and I rode well to earn it, it’s not enough. There have been three guys on it all season and I want to be in that group for the rest of the year and finish each race on the podium. I’m really motivated to make that next step now and I’ll try to start on that this weekend.”

Leon Haslam: “Brno was a tough weekend for us and we ran into a few issues, so we are looking to eliminate a lot of them this weekend. The Nürburgring will be a new circuit to learn for me but from what I have seen on TV it looks it like it should be a good one for the Honda. The summer break was needed, but it went on a bit too long
so I am looking forward to getting back on the bike in Germany.”

Ryuichi Kiyonari: “I’ve had a good holiday, lots of relaxing every day at home, but now I’m really looking forward to racing again. Nürburgring was not so good for me last year and it was not an easy track for me to learn. I did learn a lot though and I think we can start the weekend in a better position. In race two at Brno, I felt a
definite improvement in the bike and the new suspension.”

Carlos Checa: “I’ve had a good few weeks off, cycling and trekking in the Pyrenees and just relaxing. But I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike and continuing the progress that we found possible at Brno. I like the Nürburgring very much, it’s one of my favourite circuits, but we struggled to find the right grip levels last year. This year, with the new Öhlins suspension, you could say we are
starting again from zero, but actually the faster parts at Nürburgring are not so different from Brno and the bike felt really good there.”

John Hopkins: “I have never been to the Nürburgring before but have seen the racing there on television. I have tried to learn the track by playing video games and will hopefully adapt to the track as quick as I can this weekend. It looks like a cool track to ride, and I would definitely like to get a good result for my team and prove the Honda can work well there.”

Matthieu Lagrive: “I like the Nürburgring a lot. It’s a circuit that I have a good feeling for, even though I have never been on the podium there. We have some work to do and we’ll try to find a good setting as soon as possible. I’m happy with the development that the team has made on my CBR1000RR and will be trying very hard for
some positive results in the last part of the season.”

WSS Rider Comments:

Eugene Laverty: “I had the chance to ride the Nürburgring recently and it is a difficult track as it’s so bumpy. There are a lot of bumps off-line too. The more laps you do the more you can learn about it. We should do well there; Cal’s bike will be strong but we will be fighting for the win.”

Kenan Sofuoglu: “I feel really motivated now to get back to winning ways with the team on the CBR600RR. It’s not my favourite circuit, but we had a test at Nürburgring two weeks ago and another test at Assen on Tuesday this week. I think this shows the commitment that the team has to improving the bike. Now I want to finish the season in the same way that we started, by winning.”

Andrew Pitt: “There’s been some work going on during the break and we’ve had a couple of tests since Brno, one at Nürburgring and another at Assen, looking for something that we can start a race weekend with, rather than trying to re-invent the bike all the time. I watched last year’s Nürburgring race recently and my win there looked pretty easy. I can’t think it’s going to be like that this year, but I’ve had faith in the Ten Kate boys for a long time and I know they can deliver.”

Anthony West: “The Nürburgring is a new track to me and I’m looking forward to riding it this weekend. It will be a new challenge. After our success at Brno it will be interesting to see if we can repeat that in Germany. After my summer-break in Australia I am fully charged again and confidently looking forward to the next race.”

Mark Aitchison: “This weekend in Germany I am aiming to get my consistency back during both the practice sessions and qualifying. In Brno we suffered a few problems with the bike, plus I made some mistakes, and the result was a very difficult race weekend. Now my plan is to attack each session as it comes and just keep everything
positive on and off the track.”

Miguel Praia: “We raced this track last year, and although we didn’t find much speed on Friday and Saturday we improved things for the race. The summer break was good for us. I was still recovering from some of the injuries I suffered at Miller during the last few races but now I am 100% fit. The team has been working hard developing the bike, so we should have an even stronger package in Germany. Nürburgring is a
difficult racetrack; the corners have lots of contrasts. You need confidence, and to be able to understand it pretty well.”

Gianluca Vizziello: “We have some new materials for the Nürburgring which can hopefully help me to move forward this weekend. I have worked hard over the last weeks to re-charge myself and want to ride a good race this weekend.”