Honda duo aiming high in Moscow
The Pata Honda pairing of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam are preparing for this weekend’s (19-21 July) eighth-round World Superbike championship races at Moscow Raceway in Russia.
Following last season’s inaugural World Superbike event in Russia, this weekend marks the championship’s second visit to the tight 3.931km circuit which lies 80km to the west of Moscow, with Sunday’s opening 25-lap race marking the halfway point of the 2013 SBK season.
Rea is in good form, having enjoyed podium finishes at each of the last two rounds in Portugal and Italy, but the 26-year-old did not enjoy good fortune during his last visit to Moscow Raceway. Rea crashed out of race one last season and came home seventh in the second outing after being taken out by another rider.
Haslam, too, had his second race terminated by another rider last season and had only one sixth place finish to show for his efforts. However, the 30-year-old is feeling stronger in the left leg that is still recovering from an early-season fracture and he tested last week alongside his Pata Honda team-mate for the forthcoming Suzuka 8-hour race which takes place just one week after this weekend’s Moscow SBK event.
I was pretty sore after Imola and went straight into testing there on the Monday after the race, followed by the Suzuka test. But it all went well and Suzuka was actually a little easier and less physical with the lower power from the endurance bike. It was nice to get home though, and to enjoy some good weather. I’m really looking forward to Moscow despite disappointing results there last season with a couple of crashes. But we were at the sharp end and competitive and the circuit should be good for the Honda. Hopefully, I’ll be able to ride it a little more normally this weekend as I’m able to put some more weight through the pegs, even though it’s through my heel rather than the front of the foot. But it’ll definitely be better than at Imola.
It’s been nice to have a few days relaxing in this good weather because it’s been pretty flat-out since Imola, with the test there and then a couple of days at Suzuka. Moscow’s a unique circuit – tight and twisty and not necessarily the favourite of many riders. But I think it could play to the strengths of the CBR, especially the first two sectors. We struggled a bit at the end of the lap last year, but I think we’ve got some ideas on how to deal with that. I’d be happy to continue the podium form we’ve had in the last couple of rounds but it’s important for us to string two good results together. At the last two races we’ve been strong in the first two days but then something’s gone wrong in one of the races. I’m confident that we’ve addressed problems that we faced earlier in the season, so I hope that will allow us two good results on Sunday.
More, from a press release issued by Honda:
FIM SUPERBIKE / SUPERSPORT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 08 SUNDAY JULY 21 MOSCOW RACEWAY, RUSSIA PREVIEW
HONDA'S SUPERBIKE DUO START TO GET SUPER BUSY IN RUSSIA
The FIM Superbike World Championship approaches the halfway point as it heads to Russia for round eight this coming weekend, with Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) ready to shoot for personal best results of the year at the 3.931km long Moscow Raceway.
This Russian race, on the SBK calendar for the second year in succession, begins a busy run of three consecutive race weekends for each top CBR1000RR rider. First is Moscow in SBK mode, then both riders head to Suzuka for the famous 8-Hour endurance race on July 28, and then both return to their UK homeland for the ninth round of the SBK series, on 4 August.
Rea and Haslam have each tested in Japan in readiness for the important Suzuka race after the previous SBK round at Imola, where Rea was second in race two and Haslam scored two top ten places despite continuing his rehabilitation after breaking his lower left leg at Assen in April.
In Russia Rea will be going all out to try and score his first race win of 2013, having taken three podium finishes so far, including two second places. Rea is sitting seventh overall in the points standings, only 11 points behind the rider in sixth place, Loris Baz.
For Haslam his return to full race fitness has proved to be unavoidably, if frustratingly, gradual. Leon, currently 15th in the championship is still hampered by a lack of strength and endurance in his lower left leg, which has prevented him from matching his potential one-off lap times with a competitive full race performance.
With two 25-lap races coming up in Russia and 15 corners to negotiate on each of these laps, Haslam expects the races to be tough but hopefully rewarding.
After the Russian race weekend and the Suzuka 8-Hour the ninth round of the Superbike World Championship will take place at Silverstone in the UK, on Sunday August 4.
RUSSIAN ROUND OFFERS MUCH TO VAN DER MARK AND ZANETTI
Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) and Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) will take on the challenge of Moscow Raceway in the forthcoming eighth round of the 2013 FIM Supersport World Championship on Sunday July 21.
Despite each rider being a full season rookie in this class in 2013, both raced at the one-year old facility, some 70kms outside the Moscow city border, last year. Van Der Mark was having his first ever WSS ride, as a wildcard in his Dutch-based Honda team, while Zanetti was competing in the FIM Superbike World Championship round as a privateer, taking a career-equalling best of eighth place in race one on a 1200cc twin cylinder bike.
After their convergence into the Pata Honda World Supersport team in
2013 both riders have reached the podium already on their CBR600RRs, with van Der Mark taking a third and a second, while Zanetti has a single third place to his credit. In the overall rankings van Der Mark is fourth on 73 points, Zanetti fifth on 68 points.
Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda) will be running at his Russian-funded team's home round this weekend, as he goes for another top class race finish in his rookie season. The former British Supersport Championship star has not ridden at Moscow Raceway before so hopes for a clean and positive Friday experience to allow him the best possible start to Sunday's 18-lap race.
Sheridan Morais (PTR Honda) has found his troublesome right shoulder injury impossible to shake off without the required period of rest and recuperation, so he and his team have elected to leave the South African star out of the Russian line-up and replace him with talented American rider Kenny Noyes. A Moto2 pole sitter and top competitor in Spanish racing, Noyes should be a force to be reckoned with in the top half of the draw, even though he does not know the Russian circuit yet.
WSS series regular Luca Marconi (PTR Honda) will be unable to contest the Russian round after suffering a fractured arm at Imola.
22-year-old English rider Luke Mossey is replacing him at the Moscow round. Mossey was a points scorer for 15th place during his only previous WSS event, at Silverstone in 2012, when riding a three-cylinder machine as a local wild card.
Raffaele De Rosa (Team Lorini Honda) is in 19th place currently but can jump into the top 15 in one bound if he has a strong race result in Russia. His best individual showing so far is ninth, which he scored in Portugal during round six. British rider Tommy Bridewell, who had his first race for the Lorini Honda team at Imola, will join him again on track.
Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda) continues his recovery from a leg injury picked up in Portugal and Valentin Debise will replace him for the second time in 2013.
David Linortner (Team Honda PTR), Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda) and his team-mate Alex Schacht are more potential points scorers in Russia. Eduard Blokhin (Rivamoto Honda) flies his home flag at this round as he looks for his first points score. Nacho Calero Perez (Honda PTR) and Matt Davies (Team Honda PTR) are young riders out to impress in the second half of the 2013 season.
HONDA RIDER COMMENTS:
Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) "It has been a busy period recently, with a test after the Imola race and then some Suzuka 8-Hour testing in Japan. I am looking forward to Moscow and it kicks off three back-to-back race weekends. Exciting times, but it is going to be tough. With a really long straight leading into the final sector at Moscow Raceway that part of the track does not play to our strengths. It is tight and twisty in other places. I do not think it is a favourite layout of any rider but I feel we can use the advantages in our bike that we gained in the last few tests. We have made the CBR package stronger but we will need to improve it in some areas. I had confidence riding at the Imola tests, just after the last race and we made improvements to the bike that made me feel more confident riding it. That should help us when it comes to qualifying in Moscow as well. I just hope we can have a clean weekend, because in the past two races we have been on the podium but also had a DNF each time. We need to put two solid results together and not just one. We hope to have plain sailing on Friday and set our race day goals from there."
Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) "I have mixed feelings about Moscow as last year I was carrying an ankle injury but still fighting for wins in both races, and then I got taken out each time! It could have been a good weekend for me back then. It is just the muscle recovery in my left leg I have to allow for now because the bone is healing very well. I am still not able to use my left leg properly to change direction. I'm being forced to use my upper body more than should be. When you are riding at competitive speed you use nothing but your legs when entering corners, and try not to use your arms at all. Using your hands and arm makes the bike very unstable when you make fast changes of direction. You cannot do it quite as fast either, and it fatigues the arms twice as quickly. I'm no longer just trying to finish races anymore because I want to get back to a competitive level of pace.
Jonathan is showing what our bike is capable of now, with his podium finishes. What my pace will be at the next race we will just have to wait and see. I just need to get myself back to that kind of level."
Michael van Der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) "Moscow gave me my first Supersport experience last year, although I eventually fell and broke my collarbone, so we have to do a better job this time! My very first WSS weekend, riding as a wild card, was not so bad up to that point so I am looking forward to going back there. The previous round this year at Imola was OK so I hope we can stay in good form for the Moscow race. I think this first half of the year has gone a little bit better than we could have expected in some ways. The first couple of rounds were almost perfect although some other rounds have also been a little difficult. We did not really expect to be at or near the front at each race at the start of the year."
Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) "Moscow should be OK because I like the track layout. Last year I made a good race weekend on my Superbike so I will be returning there with some good memories. For the WSS season so far, I think it has been positive. I had no previous experience of the 600 and that made it difficult at the very start but the team made a good job of working with me and the bike. I think we have had a positive experience so far. I think trying to catch the first two riders in the championship is going to be difficult now but from third position down there is not a lot of difference in the points. It is important to make the best finish possible in Moscow and for sure I will shoot to complete all the races inside the top five each time."
Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda)
"I am going to Moscow to race and I am all good to go. It is an important race for the team because it is their home round. I give it 110% at all the tracks anyway. My knee is not quite right still after hitting a kerb at Portimao but I have been training on it full time again. It is OK to use but it is still not great when I use it hard and it does get stiff. There is no X-Box game for the Moscow circuit to 'practice' on before I get there so I will have to learn it quickly on Friday and get up to speed right away. Halfway through the year now and I just want to continue to be consistent and fast. The most important thing for me is where I finish the championship in my first year."
Kenny Noyes (PTR Honda)
"I am just going to do my best and get used to the bike and track ASAP. The bike, track and team are all new to me. I rode at Silverstone last year in WSS on a different bike and got some time on the Pirelli tyres. We will give it our best effort and see where we are after the practice and qualifying sessions; a top 10 finish for sure would be a goal."
Luke Mossey (PTR Honda)
"I can't wait to get with the PTR Honda team, I am so happy to be racing in Russia. This is my first time racing in WSS outside the UK, so my aim is to hopefully do a good job for the team and myself and see where it leads from there."