Honda riders, Jonathan Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama, have journeyed to Russia for the first time for this weekend’s (25-27 August) eleventh round of the 2012 World Superbike championship at the recently completed Moscow Raceway.
The 3.931km circuit lies 77km to the west of the Russian capital and this weekend’s event marks the first visit of the World Superbike championship whose owners, InFront Motorsports, signed a ten-year agreement with the event promoter last year.
Rea and Aoyama sampled the new circuit for the first time today during an official test, finishing 12th and 18th fastest respectively, with Spain’s Carlos Checa posting the fastest time ahead of this weekend’s two 25-lap races.
Jonathan Rea It’s always a great adventure and a professional challenge coming to a new country and a new circuit for the first time. I spent yesterday in Moscow at a Honda customer event and it was good to meet a new group of enthusiastic sportsbike fans. I really enjoyed today’s test as an opportunity to get acquainted with the Moscow Raceway circuit. First impressions of the track are that it’s very tight and twisty. We’re in second gear for pretty much most of the lap, obviously not for the straights, but it’s fun! It’s very technical and I’m enjoying it so far, but for the race weekend the times will be really close and I’m expecting tight racing. The infrastructure’s nice and the track’s quite smooth – it’s a little bit dirty because there’s not a lot of rubber down, but we’re finding the track’s getting faster and faster, so I’m looking forward to the weekend.
Hiroshi Aoyama It seems like the racetrack is a little bit compact, so you have to find a good timing on the bike and also the grip level is not so high. I think it’s normal that on the first day it’s a little bit more dusty and many corners are very slippery. I’ve already had a couple of near crashes but I think we’ve started OK and I’m looking forward to improving on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Today was quite good weather so I’m hoping that it keeps like that for the weekend. For sure, everyone is going to go faster so we’ll have to follow and hope to be in a good position.
Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator Hiroshi ended up strongly this morning and improved his time by three seconds when he went from the harder to the softer compound, and he ended up third fastest. Because of the limited number of soft tyres allocated, we had to work around the setting this afternoon and he couldn’t improve his lap time. He actually went faster on the harder tyre, so the position looks worse than it is. Jonathan struggled a little at the end of the day in finding the right direction for the set-up – again this was due to the limited tyre allocation. We had to make a setting on the no-so-good tyre but then a faster lap on the soft tyre was not easily coming. We’ve got work to do, but we’ll spend tomorrow analysing everything from today and make a plan for Friday.
2012 World Superbike championship, round eleven
Moscow Raceway, Rusia – weekend schedule (local times – GMT+2)
Friday 24 August 11.45-12.30 Free practice 15.30-16.15 Qualifying 1
Saturday 25 August 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 26 August 09.20-09.35 Warm-up 12.00 Race 1 (25 laps 98.275km) 15.30 Race 2 (25 laps 98.275km)