PATA Honda riders Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark have talked up their chances for the 2015 World Superbike season at the team’s official presentation in Verona, Italy today. The team will field the reigning World Superbike champion along with the current World Supersport champion and both riders are confident of building on their 2014 successes.
Guintoli clinched his first world crown at the final round of last season in Qatar on Aprilia machinery but after testing with Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade, the Frenchman doesn’t believe he is taking a step back and expects the team to be well prepared for whatever the new regulations bring in 2015.
“Bringing the number one plate to a new manufacturer is a big deal, really, because it doesn’t happen very often. It’s symbolic for me, too, because I’ll be going for the title again on a different bike, the Honda CBR. I’ll definitely be wearing the number one with pride this year. But I’m motivated by the challenge and I’ve found a team that also wants it really badly. The bike has changed quite a bit over the winter and we have new regulations. The team has worked hard and we know it’s going to be a big challenge, but that’s what makes it interesting! The 2015 engine is quite close to last year’s specification and, if anything, is a bit smoother, which is good news for us because, built as standard, it suits the new rules. We’re still working on a few things like weight distribution and geometry but the bike is already quite different to last year. I’m very pleased with the work that has been done over the winter. There is still more work to be done, but the team is a big asset; you can feel the power of Honda, and it feels good.”
Like Guintoli, Van der Mark has tested the 2015-spec machine at Portimao and Aragon in preparation for his World Superbike debut and the Dutch youngster has been impressed with its performance so far.
“I’m in the same team as last year but, after winning the World Supersport title, I had to make another step and, for me, that was World Superbike. It’s maybe a little easier for me because I have the same team, but I still have to get used to the bigger CBR and its more sophisticated electronics and find a good set-up. I think the biggest challenge for me and everyone is the new regulations. At the moment the bike feels really good but we’ll have to see where it is after the first few races. I have to learn a lot, of course, but I don’t put any pressure on myself – I just want to do my best, make forward steps and see where we can get to. The weather hasn’t been great at the two tests we’ve had this year but my feeling with the CBR is much better than my first outing at Jerez. Together with Sylvain, I think we have a great team. He brings a lot of experience as last year’s world champion, but I think we can learn from each other and that’s what we’ve been doing in the tests.”