WSBK: Ten Kate Honda Head To Losail For Desert Showdown
Ten Kate Honda Team look forward to round two in Qatar
On the Superbike side of the garage, Jonathan Rea and Carlos Checa will be seeking to eliminate the rear grip issues that they experienced in the opening round at Phillip Island in Australia just over a week ago.
Ten Kate Honda Racing’s Ryuichi Kiyonari, racing under Honda Accessories colours this season, will also be looking for a marked improvement on his disappointing start in Australia. The Japanese ace was forced out in a crash on the opening lap of race one and then suffered from a dramatically early loss of rear grip in second encounter.
Meanwhile the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team’s defence of the World Supersport championship – a title it has won every season since 2002 – began in the best possible way at Phillip Island when Kenan Sofuoglu took a narrow victory ahead of team-mate and reigning champion Andrew Pitt.
It was a marked contrast to the team’s opening round last season, which was held in Qatar, when Pitt and his then Supersport team-mate, Jonathan Rea, both crashed out of the race on lap two.
2009 World Superbike Championship
Jonathan Rea – Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade
I like Qatar, which is lucky, because I’ve done a lot of laps here. As well as the Supersport race last year, which we’ll skip over quickly, I’ve been involved in a couple of Honda CBR launches here, so I know the place pretty well. The results at Phillip Island weren’t fantastic but if you’d offered them to me before we left, I would’ve taken them. I’m pretty convinced that we’ll not suffer the same problems here – instead of looking after the rear, it’ll be more a case of looking after the front tyre, and I think I’m pretty good at that.
Carlos Checa – Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR
I really like the circuit in Qatar very much, but last year here everything was new to us, including the bike so, with the disappointment of Phillip Island behind us, we’re ready to go again. I’m looking forward to racing again this weekend – my shoulder is much better and I should be able to ride the bike without any restrictions. I believe we can be more competitive and in a position that better reflects the quality of the CBR1000RR and the hard work of the team. The Losail circuit is flat and smooth and should allow us to operate with a better combination of tyres than in Australia.
Ryuichi Kiyonari – Ten Kate Honda Racing CBR1000RR
I was so disappointed after the two races at Phillip Island – especially after we had got the bike working well during practice and qualifying and we believed our race pace was good. But, after I got T-boned in the first race and had no rear grip in the second, I have had to put the disappointment behind me. Losail is not my favourite circuit but I am sure we will start over again here and get our season going with some better results.
2009 World Supersport Championship
Kenan Sofuoglu – Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR
Phillip Island was the perfect start to the season for me and it felt fantastic to win again on the CBR600RR. It was a really tough race and it was clear that the championship is very competitive this season, especially with my team-mate, Andrew! Of course, I won the Supersport race here at Qatar in 2007 so I like the circuit, too. The team is strong, so we will aim to do it all over again this weekend to keep the momentum from our good start to the season.
Andrew Pitt – Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR
I like the place and got my first World Superbike podium here, so it’s been good to me – apart from last year, which was a little blip on the start to our season. I think the tyres will suit the circuit here a little better than they did in Australia, although the result there was pretty good, considering the problems we’d had before the race. I’ll be looking to go one step higher on the podium this weekend but I know Kenan will be there and have something to say about that!
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
After analysing the data following our disappointing Superbike results from Australia, I believe we have found something new to start with at Losail that will serve us better. Our results here in the past have been pretty OK and we’ve had a couple of wins with James Toseland in 2006 and 2007, so it’s not a bad track for us at all. With Supersport, the list of prizes is even bigger and, apart from last year, which was not so good, we have won every race here. In the first round, preservation of the rear tyre was the key to our performance, but here there will be more attention on the front. Australia was the best possible start to our World Supersport campaign for this season, but we have a big challenge from our rivals this year and we will start it all over again this week and treat it like just another race.