Honda World Superbike riders Jonathan Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama both have reasons to be cheerful ahead of this weekend's meeting at Assen. Rea took a home victory for the Ten Kate squad last year but hasn't stood on the podium so far this term, a statistic he is keen to change on Sunday.
“It would certainly be nice to get back on the podium this weekend as it's been a while since I was up there. It's been a typically slow start to the season, really, and it was a little disappointing that we weren't more competitive at Imola. With the new one-bike rule, it's become difficult to try new and different parts on the bike but the test day that we had after the Imola race was really valuable. I've got a better feeling with the front of the bike and, even though the weather wasn't great and I've ridden faster around Assen, the test last week confirmed that improved feeling. We're still looking for the optimum set-up with the new factory forks from Ohlins, but it'll be good to race at Assen again. The place has got some really happy memories for me and it's great for the whole team, because a load of guys from back at base, plus the partners of the crew, can come up and see what we do when we're away for the weekend.”
Teammate Aoyama has a Grand Prix victory to his name at the Dutch circuit, having won the 250cc race in his title winning year of 2009. The Japanese rider has struggled to adapt to life in SBK so far but expects to improve this weekend.
“The weather that we had for the test at Assen last week was not very good and we had a lot of things that we wanted to try after the Imola test. But the day we had there was a lot more positive because I had to change some things. I like Assen very much – I liked the old circuit layout, but the new one is fun, too – and I won there on the 250 when I was riding in GPs. I am really looking forward to the weekend at Assen and continuing the improved feeling that I have with the bike. I will try as hard as I can, like always, and see how things are on Friday morning.”
Team Manager Ronald ten Kate feels there have been steps made to improve the CBR1000RR since Imola and is optimistic for the weekend.
“Our two-day test here last week wasn't great because the temperature was quite low and there were a few showers. But I think the weather this weekend won't be much different, so maybe it was good for us to prepare! We were able to confirm that the new swingarm is working OK and we've improved the setting with the front forks to give Jonathan a better feeling. Because of the weather and the fact that we were alone, it's difficult to know exactly where we are, but Jonathan definitely found a step forward during the test we had at Imola the week before. We got a good direction for Hiroshi there, too, and that continued at Assen, which is a circuit he knows well. Imola was difficult for him because we hadn't found a base setting for him and the circuit has a few blind corners. We're looking forward to seeing how he goes at Assen this weekend.”