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Mar 27, 2012

More Previews Of This Coming Weekend's World Superbike Event At Imola

Max Biaggi (3).
World Superbike returns to Imola with Biaggi as leader

Imola (Italy), Tuesday 27 March 2012: Following the opening round of the season at Phillip Island in Australia, the FIM Superbike World Championship arrives in Italy for its first appearance on European soil at Imola, one of the most spectacular circuits on the calendar. For the production-based racing series it is also the first of three rounds to be held in Italy this year: Monza on 6 May and Misano on 10 June are the other two. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) scored a win and a second place in the first round and comes to the Enzo & Dino Ferrari circuit as leader on 45 points, 15 ahead of Marco Melandri, BMW Motorrad's new signing, who finished second and sixth at Phillip Island. With two Italians in the top two slots, the massive partisan crowd expected at Imola will surely witness a memorable weekend of racing.

World Superbike has written some of the most outstanding pages in its 25-year history at this famous Italian venue. In 2002 Texan Colin Edwards (Honda) won a terrific battle against Australian Troy Bayliss at Ducati's home circuit in front of 100,000 spectators. Two years ago Max Biaggi clinched the WSB title, becoming the first Italian to do so, but last year he did not take part due to a broken bone in his left foot. The wins in 2011 went to Jonathan Rea (Honda) and Carlos Checa (Ducati) who then clinched the title at the final round.

Since its debut in 2001 this is the first time the Imola round has been held in the spring, but the date evokes memories of the 200 Mile race which in the early 1980s opened up the racing season, with pioneering battles between the American specialists and the European aces. At that time Superbike racing was almost unknown in Europe, now it is a sporting phenomenon that has millions of passionate fans throughout the world.

In the previous nine editions (17 races in total because race 2 in 2005 was cancelled due to pouring rain) Ducati have won 11 races, Honda 5 and Aprilia 1, back in 2001 at the hands of Frenchman R�gis Laconi. The most successful riders, with three wins apiece, are Laconi, Carlos Checa and Ruben Xaus. The only Italian to win at Imola is Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) in 2009. In four races Biaggi has scored a second, a fourth, a fifth and an 11th place, while Melandri only raced here in Superbike last year with a Yamaha, finishing eighth and sixth.

With three wins in the last four races, Checa is again the favourite because his Ducati, which comes out of the Borgo Panigale factory just 40 kms up the road, adapts perfectly to the Imola track. Biaggi however is on superb form and in Australia, where he had never before won, his Aprilia showed a far greater potential than the previous season. It won't be a two-way battle however because some tough customers are looming on the horizon. Riders like Tom Sykes, the 26-year-old Brit from the Kawasaki Racing Team, who was phenomenal in pre-season testing as well as in last week's supplementary test session at Aragon (Spain). Sykes started from pole at Imola in 2010 and in the opening round this year he was on the podium with a third place.

All eyes will also be on BMW Motorrad, who appear to have found in Marco Melandri the talent and experience required to score their first win. Local man Melandri, who lives 40 kms away in Ravenna, scored BMW's best ever result in Australia, a second place, and he and his equally impressive British team-mate Leon Haslam successfully tested an evo-spec engine and a new swing-arm in Spain. Imola is also a turning-point for Jonathan Rea, the talented Honda rider who could only manage seventh and fourth in Australia and who has bitter-sweet memories of Imola: a painful injury in the 2010 warm-up and a magnificent win last year.

Other men to watch will be the returning American John Hopkins (Crescent Fixi Suzuki), who has been given the all-clear by his hand surgeon to make his 2012 debut following his crash at Phillip Island testing, as well as the other Brits Leon Camier (Crescent Fixi Suzuki), Chaz Davies (Aprilia ParkinGO) and Ireland's Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing), the latter two both emerging from the injuries they received in their separate Phillip Island crashes.

Proceedings get under way on Thursday with the traditional Open Paddock, during which fans can enter the circuit for free to meet the champions, go autograph hunting and have a look inside the pit garages the day before the action starts on the track.

Points (after 1 of 14 rounds): 1. Biaggi 45; 2. Melandri 30; 3. Sykes 29; 4. Checa 25; 5. Rea 22; 6. Guintoli 16; 7. Smrz 16; 8. Haslam 15; 9. Aoyama 15; 10. Berger 12; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 45; 2. Ducati 41; 3. BMW 31; 4. Kawasaki 29; 5. Honda 22; 6. Suzuki 4.


World Supersport

The second World Supersport round takes place between the two Superbike races, with action guaranteed in this mid-sized production-based racing category. Turkish hard man Kenan Sofuoglu blitzed his way to an opening round win in Australia on a Kawasaki Lorenzini machine run by the Italian team. It was the two-time Supersport champion's return to the category after a break of one year. Kawasaki will surely be a force to be reckoned with this year, as demonstrated by an excellent second place in Australia for another former champion Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step). But the Hondas are not far behind, in particular the Ten Kate Racing Products machine of Aussie Broc Parkes, third at Phillip Island. World Supersport rookie Jules Cluzel from France could also spring a real surprise on the PTR Honda machine after going well in the opening round, while British hopes lie in Sam Lowes on a similar PTR prepared Honda in his second full year of Supersport racing.

Points: (after 1 of 13 rounds): 1. Sofuoglu 25; 2. Foret 20; 3. Parkes 16; 4. Cluzel 13; 5. Lowes 11; 6. Morais 10; 7. Quarmby 9; 8. Baldolini 8; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 25; 2. Honda 16; 3. Triumph 8; 4. Yamaha 5.


Superstock 1000

The first European round of the 2012 calendar sees the start of two categories reserved for youngsters from all over the world. The FIM Superstock 1000 Cup is open to riders of under 26 years of age, racing on strictly production-based models, the same as the ones used in Superbike but with more limitations placed on the engine and cycle parts identical to the road bike. Imola will see the debut of the eagerly awaited Ducati 1199 Panigale, the Italian manufacturer's new challenger for future production-based racing. BMW, Kawasaki, Honda and Aprilia are the other manufacturers represented in the 24 permanent rider field, with Frenchman Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia), Australian Bryan Staring (Kawasaki Pedercini), another Frenchman Loris Baz (MRS Kawasaki), Germany's Markus Reiterberger (alpha Racing BMW) and Lorenzo Savadori (Barni Racing Ducati) all out to take over at the top from Italian Davide Giugliano, who has now been promoted to World Superbike with the Althea Racing team.


Superstock 600

The UEM European Superstock 600 Championship also gets underway this weekend. Superstock 600 has a similar flavour to its bigger 1000cc brother, but this time it is open to under 22 year-olds on mid-sized machines (600cc for fours, 750cc for triples) with virtually no modifications allowed from their equivalent road bikes. The series, which has fast machines but with a similar performance and one-make tyres, has been designed to offer a low-cost entry formula for youngsters and it always guarantees spectacular racing. Last year the title went to Jed Metcher, 21 years of age from Australia, who like Giugliano, has now moved up a category into the Yamaha RivaMoto Supersport team. The first round will see a grid bursting at the seams, with 39 riders entered: Italians make up the lion's share with 14, but there are also 12 wild-cards. Men to watch this year will be the Ten Kate Junior pairing of four-time race winner last year, Michael Van der Mark of the Netherlands, and Switzerland's Bastian Chesaux, as well as Stephane Egea from France (Falcone Yamaha) and last year's 2011 European Junior Cup champion Matta Davies from Australia (GoEleven Kawasaki.




More, from a press release issued by PTR Honda:

PTR HONDA'S Jules Cluzel may never have visited Imola in Italy before but that isn't stopping the French ace from targeting a podium finish during his first visit this weekend for the second round of the World Supersport Championship.

Ronan Quarmby ranks Imola as one of his favourite tracks so will be looking to improve on seventh last time out ;while Martin Jessopp is relishing the chance to get racing again as he adapts from a Superbike to Supersport race machine.

The race starts at 1330CET on Sunday April 1st with practice and qualifying sessions on the Friday and Saturday.

Jules: "My feeling is I am really happy to go to Imola as the break was too long from the first to second round. I want to make the same as Phillip Island and challenge at the front. I was very happy on my PTR Honda just that we have had some tyre problems at what was maybe our worst circuit of the season; we hope the problem is finished for the next race. I think we can fight for the podium, I just have to learn very fast and concentrate as it is my first time at the track."

Ronan: "I really enjoy the Imola circuit and cannot wait to get racing again. I have a bike and team that can help me to challenge for the top six this weekend and that is my realistic target. My lap times were close to the front-runners in Australia and I am sure if I can get away with them then I can run and challenge them. I am very fired up and can't wait to get racing."

Martin: "I'm looking forward to Imola so much. We had a teaser round and then a big gap. I rode at Imola nine years ago so I have very little track knowledge. What I do remember is I love the flowing wide corners and enjoyed it. The first session is to learn the track and then I need to get on it in first qualifying. Lee (technician) has had a good look at the data from everyone's (PTR team) bikes and we are right in the ballpark. I just need to ride it properly as a 600 should be, so I am looking for a good result."

Simon Buckmaster, PTR Honda Team Manager: "Jules challenged for the win in Australia until he dropped back with tyre wear problems. Ronan closed on the lead pack from the fourth row before similar problems. We will look to maximise our package in Imola and both riders are confident they can challenge at the front. It's Jules' first time at the track but I am sure by the end of qualifying he will be on the pace. It was a strong track for Ronan last year and he is super confident. After being forced to run off the track at Phillip Island, Martin rode a strong race and we expect to see more of his potential at Imola."




More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

Kawasaki Duo All Ready For Imola

WSBK, Imola, Italy, 26 March 2012

Kawasaki Racing Team riders Joan Lascorz and Tom Sykes are in confident mood as their thoughts turn to the second round of the Superbike World Championship, to be held at Imola this coming weekend.

A recent test at Motorland Aragon in Spain boosted both the riders and the team yet again, with Sykes setting a new track best and Lascorz finding what he believes is a missing link in his machine's overall race set-up.

Sykes enters the second round in third place in the championship points tally, having secured pole and then a fourth and a third place finish at the opening round in Australia last month.

Lascorz is in 20th place overall, having worked hard with an imperfect set up at Phillip Island to score a point in race one, then running right with his team-mate in fourth place for seven laps in race two, after swapping to an alternative set up. He eventually fell from contention but in competing near the front he confirmed the direction of set-up improvements, which he worked on at the Motorland tests Motorland.

Now the challenge facing Joan and Tom is the 'old school' parkland circuit of Imola, a venue that Sykes has shown strong form at in the past. Tom led a race for some time on his Kawasaki in 2010, after setting pole position, then finished fourth by only a fraction of a second in race two last year, on the 2011 version of the Ninja ZX-10R.

After the race at Imola there will be a Pirelli tyre test day, which the teams will make use of to continue with the Ninja ZX-10R development programme, put in place by KHI and carried out by the Kawasaki Racing Team around the racetracks and test venues of the world.

Team Pedercini, a Kawasaki Motors Europe supported SBK squad, will field David Salom and SBK rookie Leandro Mercado at Imola and each of these riders has enjoyed a test session at Aragon alongside the factory team recently. Salom's injured wrist, which held him back in Australia, is almost healed and Mercado is ready to race for the first time after missing most of the winter because of injury.

The Superstock 1000 FIM Cup gets underway this weekend at Imola. This category is only run at European circuits hence it was included at the first SBK round in Australia. Bryan Staring and Jeremy Guarnoni will represent the Pedercini team, with Loris Baz riding for the Kawasaki team MRS set-up.

Joan Lascorz: "The best thing about the test at Motorland was that was we found a good base for the bike. We confirmed that we took some wrong steps in Australia and we double-checked that in Motorland. I had the opportunity to ride with very balanced bike in that test and I am exciting to go to Imola and see how the bike goes when we get there. The Italian track is fast, with some places where there are some really quick changes of direction. To have a bike set-up with easy handling will be important. Let's see how we manage to bring out the best of the Ninja ZX-10R this weekend. Inside the team I feel the direction is same for everybody and this make the work easier. All the technical staff work with high motivation and for sure KHI is doing a lot of work. I think in myself, in my overall condition, I'm much better than last year and hope that soon I can demonstrate that in the results. This is my second year in SBK but for me last year we only saw 50% of Lascorz, because my Silverstone crash in 2010 affected all of my 2011 season. I hope to show in 2012 what Kawasaki expected from me when they signed me for two years in 2010."

Tom Sykes: "We improved the bike at the recent Aragon tests particularly the front end feedback and traction, which I hope we can take onwards to Imola. To be honest I am looking forward to it partly because in the past two seasons I have gone well on the Kawasaki but I am hoping to do even better. That will be my plan for race weekend. We have changed the balance of the bike quite a lot in the past few months so a big part of me is thinking that we should be a bit better even at the start of practice. I am confident that it will work out from the start but there is always a chance that we will have an extra bit of set-up work to do. I am very much looking forward to Imola, based on the results we had in Australia and in recent tests at Aragon."




More, from another press release issued by Kawasaki:

Eyes On The Prize For Championship Leader Sofuoglu

WSS, Imola, Italy, 26 March 2012

Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini rider Kenan Sofuoglu will be out to overcome the pain of a recent knee surgery when he and his team-mate Sheridan Morais take to the track at Imola this coming weekend.

Sofuoglu suffered a displaced bone in his left knee in a fast crash at Imola during a recent test at the classic Italian circuit and had to have a screw inserted to keep it aligned. He therefore only set a handful of laps of the Imola circuit and effectively missed out on two days of testing at the undulating and challenging circuit.

Sofuoglu loves the layout of Imola and one of his all-time record 18 race wins in this category came there, in 2009. Despite expecting pain to make its presence felt from his knee when he returns to the track, he is determined to back up his remarkable round one win in Australia with an effective weekend performance in Italy.

Sheridan Morais was able to get two solid days of testing done at Imola, concentrating on machine set-up rather than going or lap times until near the end. His race pace has already proved to be nearly there, as he finished the opening round sixth.

Fabien Foret (Intermoto Step Kawasaki) missed out on the win at Phillip Island by only 0.078 seconds and after a recent test for him and his young team-mate Romain Lanusse each will approach Imola ready for action and ready to go one better than in round one. Go Eleven Kawasaki rider Joshua Day will return to action at his team's home round.

Kenan Sofuoglu: "We were unfortunate at the Imola test because we only got about four laps or so but also - in a way lucky. If I had fallen at the previous corner it would have been a very big crash but I still fell hard anyway. It happened in testing and because of that I have had some time to recover. I think I will have less pain in the race than just after the crash happened. I opted to have an operation to make sure I can race at Imola. Imola is one of the nicest places we race at and missing the test has just made me even hungrier to race there. I have had to wait two weeks to ride there!"

Sheridan Morais: "I had a test at Imola and it was very valuable. We did a lot of work trying out different chassis and geometry options and we tested some more engine maps and electronic settings. We did not get the chance to go for a fast lap time because of heavy traffic but we are making progress each time out. These two days at Imola allowed us to find a base setting to start the race weekend with."




More, from a press release issued by Bogdanka PTR Honda:

BOGDANKA PTR HONDA's Sam Lowes targets a podium finish in Sunday's round two of the World Supersport championship at Imola having taken a close second at the Italian circuit in his rookie season last year.

Mathew Scholtz on the other Bogdanka PTR Honda will be aiming for another point scoring finish on what will be a new circuit for the South African rookie, while Bogdanka Honda PTR's Pawel Szkopek expects a solid result on a track where he took his best result of last year.

Sam Lowes: "I've been training hard since Phillip Island and feel the fittest I've ever been. I enjoyed Imola last year and had a good result there, a very close second place. At Phillip Island I felt really good. Whatever happened in the race, happened, but I was really happy with my riding and good in myself, so I want to fight for victory and another solid result on Sunday. Imola is a twisty track with a lot of elevation changes and from that aspect it's very similar to the British tracks, which obviously suits me very well. I really enjoyed it last year so I hope we can take it from there."

Mathew Scholtz: "Having done a race on the bike and with the team in Australia, I am now more confident and I'm really looking forward to Imola. I've been training very hard since the first round and I can't wait to get back on my Bogdanka PTR Honda. It will be a new circuit for me but on paper it looks really good so I can't wait to get there and ride. I'm focusing on improving every time I go out on track and this will be my main goal for the weekend. I was happy with how we improved during the weekend at Australia and got up to some good pace. Scoring points at Phillip Island was a good start and I hope to keep improving."

Pawel Szkopek: "I had my first World Championship start at Imola as the first Polish rider back in 2004 so it's a bit of a special place for me. It's not my favourite track but that doesn't really matter. What's important is that it suits my style really well. I was twelfth at Imola last year which was my joint-best result of the season together with Assen and after showing good pace in Australia, I'm really eager to get back on my bike. I know I had a top ten potential for the first race and I'm expecting the same at Imola."

Simon Buckmaster, Bogdanka PTR Honda Manager: "Sam was in contention at the opening round until tyre wear problems dropped him to fifth. He rode a mature race to get as many points as he could. Imola was strong for him in 2011 and we expect him to be challenging on the podium again. Imola is a new track for Mathew and after riding very well at a challenging opening round we will be looking for him to score a strong points finish."




More, from a press release issued by Effenbert Liberty Racing Team:

EFFENBERT LIBERTY RACING TEAM

Focused on IMOLA!

SBK is ready for the challenge in Santerno's land!

Few days to go at the second round of SBK World Championship that will be held from 30 March to 1 April on the Imola's historic track Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

The Effenbert Liberty Racing Team, will be for the second time since its debut in SBK occurred in 2011, at the challenge on the the Santerno's banks and this year will field four axes, Jakub Smrž, Sylvain Guintoli, Maxime Berger and Brett McCormick, motivated and determined to give wire twist to the fearsome antagonists, pointing to be in the leading group.

We all remember what happened on the same circuit in September 2011, the Czech formation with Sylvain Guintoli collected a sixth and seventh place reaching seventh place in the standings riders, while the Czech "Kuba" Smrz, after seventh place in race 1, closed racing weekend with a crash. The 2012 edition will really have the pay back's taste for the two top riders of the team, and for Maxime e Brett will be the occasion to improve their race experience and ride closer to the performance of their more experienced team mates.

A retaliation which is already partially staged few weeks ago, thanks to the successful Australian debut thus marking the character of the pilots. At the Imola's appointment there will be also the new entry Brett McCormick, recently promoted to SBK, the team's deployment will get noticed with extreme accuracy.
Now the world championship standing show Sylvain Guintoli and Jakub Smrž sharing 6th and 7th position with 16 points each, while Maxime Berger lies in 10th with 12 points after the "double-header" in Australia.

It should be remembered that in down under, Effenbert Liberty Racing Team has unveiled the 25 th edition of the World Superbike with podium, a great stuff to begin the 2012 season.

A month ago, at Phillip Island's circuit, all Liberty Racing protagonists made a good start in race one. Sylvain Guintoli and Jakub Smrž shared 5th and 6th position respectively, while Berger was in 10th after first lap. Guintoli soon started to fight his way up and so did Berger, who was battling for 7th before going off track, coming back in 20th position. He was pushing hard and recovered to finish 13th overall. Jakub Smrž finished 5th and the team was happy with the maximum effort that everyone made, especially after bringing home their first podium. Sylvain's pace was very good and he was happy with his third position. His battle with Tom Sykes for 2nd position was the most spectacular action on the race track.

Race two saw youngster Maxime Berger take over from his more experienced teammates. He had a great pace and finished the race in a fantastic 7th position, fighting with his rivals from the outset to the end. Sylvain Guintoli was unfortunate as he went off track on lap 9 and crashed out of the race. It was a shame since his early race pace was already very good. Jakub Smrž was struggling at the beginning of the race as he went wide on lap 4 and lost a few positions. He pushed very hard towards the end and managed to recover to 11th place overall.

Now the attention is therefore directed at Imola, where the Team will demonstrate all his potential and will fight for another portion of championship points.

Imola for SBK's fans is also an opportunity to enjoj exciting events that frame the racing date.

The Effenbert Liberty Racing Team invites everybody at the amazing Effenbert Race Party, which will take place from 16:30 on Saturday 31 March at the Ducati Village.
Music, entertainment and fun are the elements that characterize the special rendez-vous with free entry, and "tifosi" will be able to meet the riders during the autograph session.

The gorgeus paddok girls, and hostess of the team with their sexy presence will make it even more appealing. Also you will be able to see the show of the bartenderses freestyle that that will twirl beer Effenbert bottles in a breathtaking show"¦.and much much more!!!!

Definitely for all will be available many beer Effenbert and tasting delicious cocktails made with the precious beverage.

The Effenbert Liberty Racing Team waits for you to Imola for a really amazing three days.




More, from a press release issued by Honda:

REA AND AOYOMA POISED TO GO FOR EARLY SEASON ADVANCES IN ITALY

Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) will start the second round
of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship season looking for his
first podium place on the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, on Sunday 1 April.

Rea, who scored the most recent of his eight career wins so far last
year at Imola, has already got good points on the board this season
after a seventh and then a fourth place at round one. He sits fifth
overall in the standings on 22 points, with a long season of 13
rounds and 26 individual races still to go.

Jonathan has a fast team-mate to join him in the push towards
greatness in production-derived racing, Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World
Superbike Team). He will have his second outing in the Superbike
World Championship class this weekend coming, after securing two top
ten finishes at Phillip Island in round one.

Hiroshi was familiar with the Phillip Island circuit before he
approached round one in February, but has never raced at the Parkland
circuit in the centre of Imola before. He will be looking to secure
two more strong points scores, before he and Rea take part in a
Pirelli tyre test on the Monday following race weekend. They will
both also test at their designated test track of Assen after the
Imola outing, in readiness for the third round of the championship in
the Netherlands on 22 April.

Lorenzo Alfonsi (Pro Ride Motorsports Honda) has been signed by the
Pro Ride team to complete the remaining rounds of the season, after
the departure of Raffaele De Rosa. Alfonsi, a former Superstock
champion, is ready for his first race on home soil, as he steps back
up again from national racing.

Imola is a circuit very much of the old school, located inside a
public park on the fringes of the city of Imola. Many chicanes have
been added to the once super-fast circuit since its inception, but
the impression is still one of high-speed corners flowing quickly
into the next section. The riders get little rest at Imola. There are
also frequent and occasionally mighty changes of elevation as the
track wends its way past private houses and public spaces.

Some of the most memorable moments in SBK history have played out
around the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, including race wins for
Honda riders Colin Edwards, Chris Vermeulen, Alex Barros and only
last year in race one, Jonathan Rea.


PARKES OUT FOR ANOTHER PODIUM AS SERIES HEADS BACK TO EUROPE

FIM Supersport World Championship rider Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing
Products Honda) will arrive at Imola for the second round in third
place overall in the points standings, having taken a podium in his
opening comeback ride with Honda.

Parkes' first race this year was merely to get on the grid at all,
but along with his team and Honda he was part of a pedigree effort
that earned him silverware despite not having much in the way of
pre-season testing.

Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) had a great introduction to the Supersport
class, qualifying third in Australia and then going fourth in the
race, one place up on Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda).

Lowes, a rookie last year, is now heading back to a circuit he knows
well, but for Cluzel Imola will be an all-new adventure. He is
already speaking of podium finishes despite his current lack of track
knowledge, an ambition which hardly seems beyond him if the cards
fall right for him in qualifying.

The long break after the opening round means there have been four
free weekends for the riders to endure before the action begins again
for real in Italy, with first practice starting on Friday 30 March.

Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda) had a strong if not spectacular first race
with PTR in Australia, in seventh, improving greatly on a lowly 13th
place in qualifying.

Czech rider Lukas Pesek (PRORACE Honda) enjoyed a top ten experience
in round one, in what was an impressive opening shot from one of
Honda's rising stars.

South African Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda) will be out for
more points to add to the two he scored in Australia. Polish rider
Pawel Szkopek (Bogdanka Racing Honda) has shown improvement on his
2011 practice form already this year, but is still to get his name on
the points board.

Balazs Nemeth (Racing Team Toth Honda) also has no points at present,
nor does his team-mate Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda), a
situation which the Hungarian duo are keen to rewrite in Italian ink.

Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda), Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini
Honda) and Thomas Caiani (KUJA Racing Honda) are looking to score
points for the first time in 2012.

British rider Martin Jessopp (Riders PTR Honda) has raced at Imola
before, despite this being his full rookie season in WSS, but as it
was nine years ago he expects to have to relearn the track as well as
make the transition from BSB Superbike rider to WSS Supersport rider.

Janos Chrobak (East European Racing Honda) completes the Honda entry
for the Imola weekend. Czech rider Ondrej Jezek (SMS Racing Honda)
will not make this round and a replacement is still to be announced.


Honda rider comments:

Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team)
"Things have been good since Australia although we have not tested
again. A few of our rivals have been out, but we know Imola is a
completely different circuit than Phillip Island, which a pretty
unique one for us and for our set-up. Our past results have been good
at Imola so I am just excited to be going. We will start from our
base set-up that we took away last year. So we'll see where the
weekend takes us. We have been working on a few different things on
the electronics even since our Qatar test in the winter. We do not
have a bad benchmark to work from at for Imola. I hope the weather is
as good as it has been on the Isle of Man recently!"

Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team)
"We were in the top ten each time in the first round at Phillip
Island. Two races in one day was a new experience for me and I was a
bit nervous about it at first, but finally we ended up in a good way.
For Imola I hope we can make a big step. For sure I have never ridden
there so it may be a tough weekend, especially the first day. I am
sure we can improve the bike and race-by-race I will improve my
feeling with the bike."

Lorenzo Alfonsi (Pro Ride Motorsports Honda)
"I am very happy to come back to World Superbike. Both the Pro Ride
staff and I are motivated to make everything works well this season.
I really want to make it right and I believe in this project. We will
work together to get points for the championship. We are already
working well and are full of energy to secure a good result in Imola."

Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda)
"I have been back in Europe for a couple of weeks and I am back to
European time now. I am looking forward to Imola after the first race
at Phillip Island. I was really excited to finish on the podium
because we had not ridden for four months. I am looking to get back
into it again now. I have always liked Imola because it is old
school. If you make a mistake you go onto the gravel. If you make a
mistake on a modern circuit normally you run wide, come back on and
get back into the race. You need a lot of concentration at this
track. We have a one-day test after the Imola weekend, on the Monday,
and then one at Assen before we go there for round three."

Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda)
"My feeling is I am really happy to go to Imola as the break was too
long from the first to second round. I want to make the same as
Phillip Island and challenge at the front. I was very happy on my PTR
Honda just that we have had some tyre problems at what was maybe our
worst circuit of the season. We hope the problem is finished for the
next race. I think we can fight for the podium, I just have to learn
very fast and concentrate as it is my first time at the track."

Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda)
"Phillip Island feels like it was ages ago. I was not sure when I saw
on the season calendar that Imola came along so early this year, but
I do like it there so I am looking forward to it. It is like a fast,
flowing track and it was good for me because I got second place there
last year. We had good speed at Phillip Island and we should have
done better than we did it's just that we had a few other issues. So
I am looking to Imola to really kick start my season. For me, Imola
is one of our better tracks for the Honda. Our bike should perform
well over race distance and I would say we might have a slight
advantage over the other manufacturers at this track. I feel good in
my fitness and it is a bit different to last year as I am going to
the circuits having ridden on them last year. Now it is down to me to
get the season going properly now."

Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda)
"I really enjoy the Imola circuit and cannot wait to get racing
again. I have a bike and team that can help me to challenge for the
top six this weekend and that is my realistic target. My lap times
were close to the front-runners in Australia and I am sure if I can
get away with them then I can run and challenge them. I am very fired
up and can't wait to get racing."

Martin Jessop (PTR Team Honda)
"I'm looking forward to Imola so much. We had a 'teaser round' in
Australia and then a big gap. I rode at Imola nine years ago so I
have a very little track knowledge. What I do remember is I loved the
flowing wide corners and enjoyed it. The first session is to learn
the track and then I need to get on it in first qualifying. Lee my
technician has had a good look at the data from the other PTR bikes
and we are right in the ballpark. I just need to ride it properly as
a 600 should be, so I am looking for a good result."