Hannspree Ten Kate Honda riders, Jonathan Rea and Max Neukirchner, will be hoping for better results than last weekend when they take to the Kyalami circuit near Johannesburg in South Africa this Sunday (16th May) for round six of the 2010 World Superbike championship.
After promising much at Monza last weekend by running near the top of the timing sheets in all sessions, Rea endured a frustrating raceday. The 23-year-old crashed out of both races, thankfully without any serious injury.
He is looking to get back to winning ways this weekend, at least to repeat his performance in race two of the 2009 Kyalami event, which marked his debut podium in World Superbike.
However, despite retaining third place in the overall points standings after the Monza races, Rea’s main championship rivals, Leon Haslam and Max Biaggi, have opened a significant gap which the young Northern Irish rider is determined to overhaul over the rest of the season.
Neukirchner, meanwhile, was unable to maintain the progress made at the previous Assen round, which has required a change in the German’s riding style, as well as the continual fine-tuning of his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade.
Because of injury last year, Neukirchner has not raced at the tight and twisty 4.2km Kyalami circuit, which lies 22km north of Johannesburg. However, he tested there at the end of the 2008 World Superbike championship season and the 27-year-old is determined to find two further solid finishes in this weekend’s races.
Jonathan Rea says: "I was a little sore when I woke up on Monday morning, but everything’s fine and I’ll be 100% for the weekend. I’m trying to forget about Monza because I think we were in a really good position to make up some ground on our rivals with the speed we had and the momentum we were carrying from Assen."
"Instead, they’ve opened a bit of a gap because of a mistake from me in race one and someone else’s error in race two. But I know the bike is strong and it’s not like we won’t be in a position to fight for more wins this season. People like Colin Edwards and Ben Spies spring to mind and we’re not even halfway through yet – there will be a lot of opportunities to bridge the gap over the coming races."
"We’ll try to start this weekend at Kyalami, which is a real riders circuit where you need to work hard to go fast. I got my first Superbike podium here last year, so I’ll be looking for at least two more this weekend."
Max Neukirchner says: "The results last weekend were quite disappointing after the progress we had made in the second race at Assen. But the bike definitely felt better in race two at Monza so we will try to build on that when we start work in South Africa on Friday."
"I wasn’t able to race there last year but I did tes t there at the end of the previous season. I like the track very much and Jonathan showed last year that the Honda can work quite well there."
"I’ll try as hard as possible with my team again this weekend to continue getting my riding style to match the changes we have made to the bike."
Ronald ten Kate (team manager) says: "Last Sunday’s results at Monza were very hard to swallow, especially after the euphoria of the previous race at Assen. However, these ups and downs are often a big part of racing and what is important is that we come back strong again this weekend."
"Jonathan showed that he had good speed in all sessions at Monza and we will start on Friday in Kyalami to build on that. Unfortunately, Max was not able to consolidate in Italy the step forward he made in the previous round, so our focus will be on getting his momentum going again."