Pata Honda riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam are eager to take another step forward with the development of their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machines this weekend (25-27 April) as the World Superbike championship heads to Assen in the Netherlands for round three of the 2014 series.
Both British riders, who took part in their Ten Kate team’s workshop and dealership ‘Pitstop Day’ last Saturday, have enjoyed success at the 4.542km Dutch circuit in the past – Haslam with three podium finishes, including a double in 2009 during his previous stint on Honda machinery.
Rea has taken four World Superbike victories at Assen since 2010, together with a further two podium finishes. The 27-year-old has been on the rostrum at least once in each of the last four seasons.
The Pata Honda team heads to its home race at Assen – the circuit is just 70km from the team’s base in Nieuwleusen – in positive mood. Both Rea and Haslam enjoyed developments in the performance of their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machines last time out at Aragon in Spain two weeks ago.
Improvements to both chassis settings and throttle opening, together with refinements to the Fireblade’s traction control allowed Rea to take his 34th career WSBK podium in race one at Aragon. He followed that up with a fifth place in race two, while his Pata Honda team-mate Haslam scored two top ten finishes.
I’m really looking forward to riding at Assen this weekend because it’s a circuit that I really enjoy. There are lots of passing places and there’s usually a fast group at the front, which I hope to be a part of. I’ve spent quite a bit of time there with my team over the years, and done quite a few laps developing the bike, so I hope we can get it dialled in quite quickly this weekend. Of course, a lot of that will depend on the weather because, although we’re at the end of April, it can still be unpredictable, so we’ll have to work on both wet and dry settings so we can aim for two good results. We’ve had a solid start to the season, with top five finishes and a podium at Aragon, so we’ll try to carry that momentum into the Assen weekend. There’s always a fantastic atmosphere there as it’s the team’s home race and we had another amazing Pitstop Day at the workshop last Saturday with a record crowd. It’s a perfect way to set up for the weekend.
We’ve had a really good week in Holland. Me and Johnny got some cycling in and we had a great Pitstop Day last weekend, which was as busy as I’ve seen it. I can’t wait to get to Assen – I love riding there and we’ve made some good progress with the bike recently. We had some issues setting up the bike in Aragon but that was more us than the bike, I think, and we got some OK results, even though I don’t like that place really. Hopefully, we can move things on again at Assen, which I really do like riding. We haven’t really tested the new bike in any wet weather yet but, looking at the forecast, we might get a chance to this weekend. The injury that I picked up in the practice crash last year was a bit of a freak really, so my confidence hasn’t been affected – even in t he wet. I’m not going to be running any marathons, but I can now ride the bike how I want to and there are no physical problems.
The forecast is not looking so good for the weekend at Assen, but Jonathan certainly had a good feeling with the bike during some wet weather we had at the recent Jerez test. The whole team made a good step forward at Aragon and we certainly have some plans to help to get Leon back to the front, which is where he deserves to be. He likes Assen, too, and it’s traditionally been a good circuit for the Fireblade. We are all really looking forward to the team’s home race, so bring it on – rain or shine!