The Castrol Honda World Superbike team will use a new ride-by-wire throttle system in round 11 of the World Superbike championship at Imola in Italy this weekend (23-25 September).
The team has been developing the system for several weeks in preparation for the 2012 season and tested it on the Castrol Honda CBR1000RR machines with Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus at a two-day test in Misano last week.
Following an announcement by the Superbike Commission of the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motorcyclisme) last Friday, sanctioning the use of electronically controlled throttle valves, the Castrol Honda team has opted to use it in a race weekend for the first time.
Set in rolling hills 40km south-east of Bologna in northern Italy, the 4.936km Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit at Imola, 70% of which was resurfaced last month, is one of the most iconic and picturesque on the World Superbike calendar.
Although the Castrol Honda team has enjoyed success at Imola in previous seasons, Jonathan Rea has never finished on the podium there, while Ruben Xaus, who will race this weekend for the first time since injuring his back in July at Brno in the Czech Republic, has enjoyed three race victories.
Imola has so much history and I remember the great battle between Castrol Honda’s Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss there back in 2002. It’s a circuit I really enjoy riding but I didn’t have so much luck last year, crashing out of a really wet Superpole and breaking my wrist, which ended my season a little prematurely. Since then, I’ve had a similar injury on my other wrist, but it was good to come back at Nurburgring in the last round. The Misano test last week was pretty good and allowed us to see the potential of the new ride-by-wire system. There’s more work to do though, and we’ll continue development of t he package at Imola this weekend with one eye on the 2012 season, although of course I’ll be aiming for two good results for myself and the team.
I always enjoy going back to Imola – it’s a very special circuit and I have enjoyed some success there in the past. It will be a good place to ride again after two months off the bike after the Brno crash. The test last week at Misano was good for me and I was very happy with the new package, which allows me to be a lot more comfortable on the bike. The CBR feels stronger and faster and I am able to control the bike better, so the two days last week was a good motivation for me. I am really looking forward to riding it again at Imola.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
At our two-day test in Misano last week, we started with the new ride-by-wire throttle system which we have been working on for the 2012 season and it was quite successful. In fact, it was good enough for the team and riders to make the decision to develop it further at Imola in a race weekend for the first time after the FIM’s Superbike Commission announcement last week. It means that the final three rounds of this season will give us additional opportunities to test ahead of next year. We’re looking forward to returning to Imola where we have had some quite good results in the past. The circuit has been resurfaced recently though, so we’ll have to see how it works.