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May 4, 2013

Akiyoshi To Fill In For Pata Honda's Injured Haslam At Monza World Superbike Round

eni FIM Superbike World Championship: Kosuke Akiyoshi (right) with Jonathan Rea (left) and Tadayuki Okada (center) at the 2012 Suzuka 8 Hours.
Rea completes Assen test – Akiyoshi to ride at Monza

Jonathan Rea completed a two-day test at the TT Circuit Assen in The Netherlands on Thursday following his podium at the circuit last weekend in race one of the third-round 2013 World Superbike championship event.

The 26-year-old Pata Honda rider from Northern Ireland got through a lot of work on his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, including the testing of a new fuel tank to optimise weight distribution and aerodynamics.

However, Rea completed his Assen Superbike test without team-mate Leon Haslam who is recuperating from a broken leg sustained in a practice crash at Assen last Friday. The 29-year-old British rider had an operation to pin his left tibia on Sunday and is optimistic about an early return to action.

Unfortunately, Haslam will miss next week’s fourth-round World Superbike event at Monza in Italy and the Pata Honda team has announced that he will be replaced for the two races by Japanese rider Kosuke Akiyoshi.

Akiyoshi rides a CBR1000RR Fireblade in the All Japan Superbike championship, a series that he is currently leading and which he won in 2010 and 2011. The 38-year-old from Kurume in Japan is also a three-time Suzuka 8-hours winner, most recently in 2012 with Jonathan Rea.

Jonathan Rea

It’s been a good test and we made some positive progress with traction control and throttle opening, which allows me to get on the gas earlier with more confidence. We also made some positive suspension changes at the rear, which keeps the bike more stable as I open the throttle, and we made improvements in other areas, too. I felt like it’s the first test this season where we’ve actually been able to make refinements to the bike, rather than get basic things sorted, and that’s very positive. I was really happy with the lap times, too – not just for the sake of a fast lap but because of how the time is coming, which is more comfortable now. I’m looking forward to seeing Akiyoshi-san again and to welcoming him to my team, rather than the other way round. I think we can learn a lot from his experience as a development rider because I’ve ridden both the RCV213V and the Suzuka 8-hour bikes that he’s worked o n, and I know how good they are.

Leon Haslam

I’ve just been chilling since I got out of hospital, really. I saw my physiotherapist today [Thursday] and we’re getting a plan together but we need to wait for the swelling to go down before we can get to work. I’m back to see the doctor next week and get the staples out of the leg – then I can start some pool work, too. It’s a shame to be missing Monza, but the following race at Donington Park is my target to come back. It will be good to get Akiyoshi on the bike next week though. His feedback will be useful and Monza shouldn’t be too difficult for him to learn.

Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator

We’ve done a lot of testing at Assen over the years so you can imagine that whenever we get the bike to go faster round there it’s quite exciting. That’s what we were able to achieve at this test, even without Leon, who is beginning his rehabilitation at home and we wish him all the best for a speedy return to the team. Jonathan was able to test some new chassis parts for better stability and we have been able to further refine the electronics package, which all goes to help the progress we are now making. Monza will bring its own challenges next week, but it has a few corners, as I remember, as well as some long straights!
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