The Pata Honda World Superbike team has completed its preparations for the 2015 World Superbike championship season with a two-day official test at Phillip Island ahead of this weekend’s opening round at the Australian track.
For reigning champion, Sylvain Guintoli, it was the first time back on his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP since a big testing crash at Jerez in Spain three weeks ago in which the 32-year-old French rider sustained back, neck and ankle injuries.
Guintoli worked on a number of electronics and chassis settings over the two-day Phillip Island test in a bid to make up for time lost to bad weather in two other European winter tests last month.
His Pata Honda team-mate, Michael van der Mark, has continued his acclimatization to the bigger CBR machine having stepped up to World Superbikes after winning last season’s World Supersport title on Honda’s CBR600RR.
The 22-year-old Dutch ace continued work on base chassis and electronics settings and is looking forward to competing in his debut World Superbike event at the 4.445km Phillip Island this weekend (20-22 February).
2015 World Superbike championship, round one
Phillip Island, Australia – event schedule (local times GMT +11):
Friday 20 February
- 11.45-12.30 – Free practice 1
- 13.45-14.30 – Free practice 2
Saturday 21 February
- 09.45-10.30 – Free practice 3
- 12.30-13.00 – Free practice 4
- 15.00-15.15 – Superpole 1
- 15.25-15.40 – Superpole 2
Sunday 22 February
- 09.20-0935 – Warm-up
- 12.00 – Race 1
- 14.40 – Race 2
Sylvain Guintoli – best time 1m32.220s
We’re working hard and I’m actually feeling quite upbeat tonight, despite being quite a way down on time. It was important to get back on the bike here because obviously at the last test I didn’t get any track time, so almost no winter testing. I missed out on some good conditions in Jerez and I had to rebuild my confidence as well after that massive crash there. I had a little off today as well, which, in a way was quite good and it kind of woke me up at the end of the second day!
Michael van der Mark – best time 1m31.854s
I’m really excited now because I love racing more than testing! I think everyone’s the same but we needed this test and I have a good feeling now. Most of the time for me has been making laps, and lap-by-lap I’ve improved. It’s quite difficult – everyone is really fast and I’m still learning, but that’s the way we have to do it. We’ve had two quite good days and tried a lot of things and we’ve seen which things work and which things don’t, so I’m looking forward to starting the race weekend.
Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator
We were quite relieved to see that Sylvain was fit enough to ride yesterday. He is still not 100%, but he was able to complete all the testing, which was good. We tried a lot of chassis set-ups and electronics settings and at the end he had a very small crash. That was unfortunate because he was just preparing for a fresh set of tyres to improve his time. We need to sort through all the data now and pick a base with which to start the race weekend, when hopefully he’ll be fitter, too. Michael had a good test, especially this morning when he was quite fast. He couldn’t improve his time any more this afternoon so we’ll analyse the data to see why that was. We’ve got some work to do before the weekend, but we’re all looking forward to it.