Honda Bike RacingThe Honda World Superbike Team heads to Monza in Italy this weekend (4-6 May) for a fourth round encounter at one of the world’s most iconic and historic motorsport venues.

Its location in a royal park just north of Milan marks Monza as something special, and the original, banked circuit was opened in 1922. With an average lap speed of more than 200kph, the modern variation of Monza has become renowned for spectacular slipstreaming battles.

This season’s event will be the 21st World Superbike Championship encounter at the 5.777km circuit and Monza is, therefore, a fitting place for the series to be celebrating 25 years of world class production-based racing this weekend.

Honda World Superbike Team riders, Jonathan Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama, will approach the Monza round from different starting points, with Rea arriving full of confidence from his first 2012 race win at Assen in the Netherlands last time out.

Rea has enjoyed mixed fortunes at Monza in his previous visits and the 25-year-old from Northern Ireland will be eager to secure his first visit to the podium there. However, Japanese ace Aoyama, 30, has never visited the Italian circuit.

Jonathan Rea After a relaxing spell at home, I’m heading to Monza with confidence after Assen, but that chapter is closed now and a new one will open this weekend. It’s a unique race, which has developed into a bit of a horsepower battle between manufacturers, but I’ve been involved in a couple of first turn crashes in the last two years – it’s always difficult funnelling everyone into that tight chicane at the end of the straight.

We’ve moved into a new area with the bike now and we’ve been working on a different set-up with a clear development route. I hope we’ll be able to take advantage of that at Monza, which requires stability, especially under braking, and that’s something we’ve suffered with in the past. I’m really looking forward to being back in Italy – I love racing there and the Italian fans have such a passion which is very contagious.

Hiroshi Aoyama Monza is another new track for me and I know there is a lot of history about the place. I have also heard that it is very fast with an average speed over 200kph! So, there is a lot for me to learn and, even though I have seen a little bit on Playstation, I will start to learn the way round bit-by-bit.

We had some problems with rear grip at Assen and this will be important to get on to the fast straights at Monza. So I will sit down with my crew on Wednesday and Thursday and work out a strategy. But I am looking forward to riding the Monza racetrack for the first time on Friday morning.

Pieter Breddels – team co-ordinator Monza is about speed, of course, but traction-control and electronics are also an important part of putting the power down to get on to the straights, and we’ve worked a bit on this since Assen. We’re quite positive about the set-up that we had there for Jonathan and we’ll also bring a new tank and seat unit for the CBR1000RR Fireblade to Monza, which will save around 2kg on the overall weight of the bike. For Hiro, Monza is another new circuit, so we’ll probably start him with something close to Jonathan’s setting and hope that will serve as a good starting point on Friday.

2012 World Superbike championship, round four

Monza, Italy – weekend schedule (local times)

Friday 4 May

  • 11.45-12.30 Free practice
  • 15.30-16.15 Qualifying 1

Saturday 5 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

Sunday 6 May

  • 09.20-09.35 Warm-up
  • 12.00 Race 1 (18 laps 103.986km)
  • 15.30 Race 2 (18 laps 103.986km)