Honda World Superbike Team riders Jonathan Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama head across the Atlantic this weekend (26-28 May) for round six of the 2012 World Superbike championship at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City in Utah, USA.
The two, sixth round races will take place on Monday 28 May – a public holiday in the United States – on the 4.9km Miller circuit which features a start-finish straight more than one kilometer long and produces high speeds associated with the Bonneville Speedway Salt Flats, which lie just 150km to the west.
After his race two victory at Donington Park in the UK two weeks ago – his second of the 2012 campaign – Rea sits in third place in the championship standings and the 25-year-old from Northern Ireland will be hoping for further success at Miller.
Rea took a third place on his first SBK visit to Miller in 2009 but the last two seasons have not resulted in any return visits to the podium. However, recent form and improvements to the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade leave Rea in positive mood.
Miller will be another new circuit for former 250cc world champion and MotoGP rider Hiroshi Aoyama. The 30-year-old Japanese ace took another top-ten finish at Donington Park but his first objective this weekend will be to learn Miller’s 15 turns, some of which feature intriguing names such as ‘Witchcraft’, ‘Scream’ and ‘Bad Attitude’.
One of the problems we had last year at Miller was stability on corner entry but, since the introduction of ride-by-wire and some improvements that the guys have worked on recently, we’re definitely better in that area. Miller is a circuit that demands a lot of confidence going into some corners and we’ll work this weekend with the same approach that we had at Donington. We weren’t necessarily at the top of the timing sheets in every session but we know that race wins often come in the last five laps, so we’ll follow that path again. It would be nice to get some higher track temperatures that might allow us to work on the softer tyre, but we’ll see how the weather is when we get to the track on Thursday and make a plan. I’m really looking forward to the weekend though – I really like the track and going to America is always a fun experience.
I am really looking forward to going to Miller. America is a great country and it has a little bit different tradition for motorcycles, but the fans are very excited by racing. The racetrack will be new for me so that means the first day will not be easy. I have seen the layout and it is great, looks nice, and I hope I can start with a good feeling for the bike and the racetrack. I had a little bit more of a positive feeling on the bike at the last race so I hope I can carry that feeling on all through the weekend at Miller – all the way to Monday. I have raced on a Saturday before but never a Monday, so this will be another new thing for me at this round.
2012 World Superbike championship, round six
Miller Motorsports Park, Salt Lake City, USA – weekend schedule (local times)
Saturday 26 May
11.45-12.30 Free practice
15.30-16.15 Qualifying 1
Sunday 27 May
09.45-10.30 Qualifying 2
12.30-13.15 Free practice
15.00-15.14 Superpole 1
15.21-15.33 Superpole 2
15.40-15.50 Superpole 3
Monday 28 May
12.00 Race 1 (21 laps 103.047km)
15.30 Race 2 (21 laps 103.047km)