The Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team today completed a two-day end-of-season test at Portimao in Portugal where the 2009 World Superbike and Supersport championships were concluded last Sunday.
Jonathan Rea was in scintillating form on his Honda CBR1000RR, setting – on different Pirelli race rubber, not available for the final two races of the season – a fastest time of 1’41.7s around the 4.59km Portimao circuit.
The 22-year-old Northern Irishman’s lap was almost a second faster than his best qualifying time from the weekend and 0.5s up on the pole position time of 2009 champion Ben Spies, set on softer, qualifying tyres.
Rea was joined at the test by the team’s new rider, Max Neukirchner. The 26-year-old German has spent most of the 2009 season recovering from injuries and has not ridden since crashing out of a test at Imola in Italy last July.
However, despite Neukirchner spending the two days getting accustomed to the CBR1000RR and the workings of his new Ten Kate crew, he was able to set a fastest lap of 1’43.5s
Also testing at Portimao was Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Kenan Sofuoglu, who finished in third place in the 2009 World Supersport championship. The Turkish rider set a best lap of 1’44.3s during the test, a second quicker than his best lap from Sunday’s race in which he finished second.
Sofuoglu was joined by Michele Pirro who tested the team’s Honda CBR600RR for the first time. The team is yet to announce its second World Supersport rider for the 2010 season, but team manager Ronald ten Kate was impressed by the 23-year-old Italian.
Jonathan Rea Speaks… CBR1000RR – best lap 1’41.8s
I just want to say how really, really proud I am of the whole team, who have worked so hard over the last weeks. They’ve gone through this test positively and methodically and got the bike working better. The great thing is that there is still so much potential and that just fills me with confidence for next season. The lap times were coming quite easily and we did all our work on used tyres. Everyone deserves a good rest now before we get back to work in December.
Max Neukirchner Speaks… CBR1000RR – best lap 1’43.5s
I did 70 laps on both days of the test, including runs of 16 laps so I’m quite tired after being off a bike for six months. I’ve been training hard at home, but riding a bike is quite different and I know I’ve got a lot more work to do! However, I am really happy with the way this test has gone and on the second day I could feel that the pace was definitely coming, lap by lap. I got a really good feeling with the bike and the team. Of course, there is a long way to go before I can really understand how the bike works but it is a very good start.
Ronald ten Kate Speaks… Team Manager
Our compliments go to both Jonathan and Max who have both done a great job here. Jonathan has been testing mostly 2010 parts and software, all of which seem to be working well. The plan with Max was to quietly build him back up to speed, which we knew would take at least this test and one more. To be honest, he was on it after half a day and we tested a few things like different swingarms to give him a feeling for the bike. On the Supersport side, Kenan has been absolutely flying around here and went one second faster than his quickest race lap from Sunday. He’s done so many 1’44s laps that I think he must have worn a groove in the track. He’s tested electronics and suspension parts and everything has gone really well. The test with Pirro was positive. He ticked all the boxes to be consistently fast and was working nicely with the team to get a good set up. We leave this test feeling very positive because we’ve carried out some good development work, had no pressures and done a lot of quick laps.