As part of an ongoing series of “Five Questions With,” Miller Motorsports Park has been interviewing World Superbike riders leading up to “The BigM Weekend” of US WSBK May 28-30.This week, Miller Motorsports Park interviewed Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Rea, who competes on the No. 4 Castrol Honda CBR1000RR.Rea spent one year in the Supersport World Championship, finishing second in the championship with three race wins, before moving up to World Superbike in 2009. He claimed two wins that year enroute to fifth in the championship, and four more last year to finish fourth in the points.He won his first race of the 2011 season in Race 1 at Assen, having swept both races there in 2010, and heads into this weekend’s event at Monza lying fourth in the championship chase.Five Questions with Jonathan Rea:1. Can you describe how your Honda CBR1000RR performs on the track in terms of braking, handling, acceleration, top speed, etc. when compared with Biaggi’s Aprilia, Checa’s Ducati and the Yamahas of Melandri and Laverty?It is quite difficult to compare these bikes as I have never ridden any of the other manufacturers’ machines. But, from the track, the handling of my Honda seems to be the strongest point compared to the others. We see that Aprilia has a speed advantage on all the manufacturers and, while Yamaha seem to have the corner-entry area covered, Ducati seems very strong on circuits that require being on the side of the tire a lot.2. Ten Kate Racing is a small, tight-knit team, but serves as the “factory” Honda team. How much support do you get from Honda, and how difficult is it to match the development of the bigger factory teams?I would use the word ‘official’ rather than ‘factory’. Our bikes are built in-house at the Castrol Honda workshops in Holland – at the back of the Ten Kate Honda dealership – although we do use some Honda kit parts. With HRC not being directly involved with the SBK championship, it puts more pressure on the team to develop the bike and this takes time, money and experience.3. The first time World Superbike came to Miller Motorsports Park, in 2008, Ten Kate and Honda swept the weekend with Carlos Checa. How different is this year’s bike from the 2008 bike, and do you feel like you can win at Miller Motorsports Park this year?Generally the bike is exactly the same model, but we have obviously developed it in a lot of areas. First, with suspension we are now using Ohlins and we have also fine-tuned our electronics package. We were scratching the surface with electronics back in 2008 and now we have a competitive system. I feel that by nominating Miller Motorsports Park as our test circuit this season we can eliminate the chassis problems that we had last year and race for the podium on race day.4. Please talk about your impressions of Miller Motorsports Park. Do you enjoy the track, what is your favorite part of the track and how is it comparable to other tracks that you’ve raced on?I do enjoy riding the circuit and it has a great flow, following the natural lay of the land. Compared to other circuits it is very bumpy in places and the corner names are quite gnarly! I enjoy this round the most though, as the American fans really get into the whole spirit of the event and they have supported me well since I started in SBK.5. What are you most looking forward to doing, away from the racetrack, while you’re in America this year?Probably going shopping and having a look around Salt Lake City. It also coincides with the Champions League European soccer final, most likely between Manchester United, who I support, and maybe Barcelona who my teammate, Ruben Xaus, supports, so we will have to find a bar somewhere where we can watch that. Ah, and maybe a trip to In-N-Out…!!The fourth round of the 2011 FIA Superbike World Championship will take place this weekend, May 7-8, at Italy’s historic Monza circuit. Max Biaggi swept both races at Monza last year riding for the Aprilia Alitalia Racing team.This year’s races will be broadcast on a same-day/tape-delay basis on SPEED Channel at 4 and 5 p.m. (EDT) on May 8.The May 28-30 BigM Weekend at Miller Motorsports Park will include the USA Round (Round 5) of the FIM Superbike World Championship, plus support races from AMA Pro Road Racing including the National Guard Superbike Championship, the Daytona SportBike Championship, the Vance & Hines XR1200 Championship and the Larry H. Miller AMA SuperSport Challenge. There will also be concerts on Saturday and Sunday nights, May 28-29, and a major tribute to our armed forces in recognition of Memorial Day.To obtain tickets for or information about The BigM Weekend, visit the event-specific website at BigMWeekend.com or call 435-277-RACE (7223). For information regarding Miller Motorsports Park, visit the track’s website.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.