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May 8, 2008

Former AMA Superbike Regular Bussei Will Now Replace Rolfo At Monza

Following a week-long break in the 2008 calendar, the HANNspree Superbike World Championship riders return to Europe for the fifth round of the series. The 5.793km Monza circuit near Milan is a favourite venue among many of this year's contenders, and is also a regular on the Formula One Grand Prix schedule.

Current Superbike leader Troy Bayliss heads to Italy with a 70-point advantage over his nearest rival. And, with only 50 points for two race wins up for grabs, he is safe in the knowledge that his position at the top of the standings is secure at least for now.

HANNspree Ten Kate Honda's Carlos Checa has shown fighting spirit throughout the first four rounds of the series and is now second in the championship overall. The 35-year-old Spaniard, who switched from MotoGP to the World Superbike Championship in 2008, has been a surprise frontrunner this year and has scored four podium finishes so far. He looks to clinch his maiden victory at Monza.

Checa's HANNspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari has also shown his determination to make a mark on the 2008 series. The 25-year-old double British Superbike Champion moved to the world stage this year, and despite having never raced at many of the circuits on the calendar before, has claimed several solid points-scoring finishes so far. The young Japanese is 12th the standings overall, but looks to improve his position in Italy.

The third HANNspree Ten Kate Honda rider Kenan Sofuoglu also hopes for two points-scoring finishes at Monza. The 2007 World Supersport Champion graduated to the Superbike series in 2008 but has often struggled to get to grips with the larger-capacity Honda CBR1000RR. The 23-year-old Turkish rider is currently 16th in the championship overall.

Meanwhile, it's all change in the HANNspree Honda Althea team as rider Roberto Rolfo will have to miss his home round due to injury. The 28-year-old Italian broke his left collarbone in a mountain biking accident while training last Sunday. Former Italian Superbike Champion Giovanni Bussei will replace him this weekend.

Championship standings after four rounds
1 T. Bayliss 178
2 C. Checa 108
3 T. Corser 89
4 F. Nieto 85
5 R. Xaus 81
6 N. Haga 67
7 M. Neukirchner 66
8 M. Biaggi 54
9 G. Lavilla 48
10 L. Lanzi 42

12 R. Kiyonari 39

16 K. Sofuoglu 26

19 R. Rolfo 20

More, from a press release issued by HANNspree Ten Kate Honda:

HANNspree Ten Kate Honda: bring on Monza

After a successful round at their home track in Assen in which the HANNspree Ten Kate Honda showed its dominance in the Supersport race and took a second and third place in the Superbike races, the team is now in Italy for the 5th round of the series at the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza.

Andrew Pitt, Honda CBR600RR;

Andrew Pitt bounced back strongly after suffering two DNF's earlier in the season and showed his dominance in the Supersport race in Assen. Pitt, who currently holds a second place in the championship, was eager to put some points on the board for the team to defend their World Supersport Title and battled up front with his teammate Jonathan Rea in what was by far the most exciting Supersport race of the season. Following his great performance, Pitt now remains 20 points off the leading man in the series, Spaniard Lascorz and is eager to close the gap and take the lead. Parkes and Foret remain only a few points behind Pitt, so it looks like the battle will be on again in Monza:

"I am looking forward to the race in Monza this weekend. I really enjoy riding this fast track and there is always a good atmosphere. Its one of the last remaining old style circuits and a big event for our sponsors."

"After my successful race in Assen, my confidence is high again and I'm eager to repeat my performance and put another win on the board."

"If we can find the right set up and pace through the qualifying sessions I'm confident about my changes to fight at the front of the field once again."

"I hope the battle will not be as tight as it was in Assen, but I expect it will be, as there is only a marginal point difference between the guys in the top of the Championship."

Jonathan Rea, Honda CBR600RR;

Jonathan Rea showed his best performance in the World Supersport series so far and took second in Assen behind teammate Andrew Pitt. Jonathan, who only made his first outing on the Assen track two weeks ago, faces another new track in Monza on which he has no previous experience:

"I am really excited about the new track, I've watched it on television many times but haven't experienced it myself."

"My aim is to come out of this weekend in the front line of the Championship. After my DNF in Qatar I have worked hard on finishing my races and have managed to narrow the gap with the other riders."

"My confidence with the tires is growing and I feel I can battle for a top position. I want to swap my second position of the last race in Assen into a first in Monza"

"The track in Monza is fast and it will be difficult for people to break away from the group. I expect the battle to take place in the last lap and hope I will be in the right place at the right time to fight for a top finish."

Carlos Checa, Honda CBR1000RR;

Carlos Checa was the only man to come close to Troy Bayliss in the first Superbike race and claimed a second spot behind the series' leader and a third spot in the second race. The Spanish rider now holds a second place in the Championship behind Bayliss:

"After our successful race at the team's home track in Assen we want to continue the progress and will not change too much on the bike ahead of the next race in Monza."

"Monza is a new track for me, but judging the layout of the circuit I think it will suit me and I shouldn't take me too long to familiarizes myself with the track."

"The engine performance will be important on a track like Monza and we will specifically have to focus on the chicanes. We'll need to use the full potential of the bike on a fast track like Monza."

"Its always good to race in Italy, I heard they expect many people to visit track this weekend and it will be busy in the paddock, so I hope we can give them some exciting races to watch."

"I hope I can put some pressure on Troy Bayliss and narrow the gap between us."

Ryuichi Kiyonari, Honda CBR1000RR;

Ryuichi Kiyonari hasn't had the luckiest of races in Assen. After finishing the first race in 7th place he had to end the second race prematurely due to a broken clamp of his steering damper:

"I was hoping to continue my progress for the team's home race in Assen but haven't been very fortunate."

"My crash in the free practice session didn't give me the chance to test the qualifiers and set a good result in the Superpole, I hope I can do better in Monza."

"Monza is a new track to me, but I will have to familiarise myself with the track quickly and keep my lap times continuously on this fast track. In Assen I have tried to improve my starts and increase my corner speed, hopefully I can continue doing so in the races and make my way to the front of the field."

Kenan Sofuoglu, Honda CBR1000RR;

Kenan Sofuoglu wasn't satisfied with his performance on his favourite home track in Assen and still finds it hard to bridge the gap with the top 10:

"I still struggle with my riding style on the CBR1000RR and. The set up of the bike seems to be fine, I just cant put my finger on why my performance hasn't improved that much."

"My last race in Assen was far from satisfactory for me, but I have set my goal for Monza realistically and hope to be able to ride a consistent race and narrow the gap with the riders in front."

"I need a good race to boost my confidence. I am eager to succeed"
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