Ten Kate Honda have set themselves a cautious target for the latest round of the World Superbike Championship at Vallelunga as lead riders Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari prepare to compete there for the first time.
The team have won three of the last four races courtesy of reigning British Champion Kiyonari, but while the Japanese rider's success has been credited to his intimate knowledge of both Brands Hatch and Donington Park, he will be back on the learning curve as the series heads south to the Italian circuit.
Still, Kiyonari won't be heading into a complete unknown after testing at Vallelunga back in July, while he is also expecting his increased level of confidence to play a part in keeping him up at the sharp end of the field.
“At least I know the circuit at Vallelunga, because we tested there in July. I think this will be very important because I do not have to spend time learning the track. The times at the test were not fast enough, but I got a good feeling for how the CBR1000RR works there and we know which areas we need to improve to get another good result.
“Of course, I am feeling confident at the moment, but I know I must keep focused. I had too many crashes at Donington and made too much work for the team. I will try my best to make it easier for them this weekend!
It is a similar story for Checa, who qualified well at Donington Park but struggled in the races, as he embarks on his Vallelunga debut. Although he too tested in July, he admits he wasn't particularly enamoured with the circuit's blend of high-speed straights and low-speed corners.
“Although we tested at the circuit in July, it was not such a positive feeling. It's a bit of a Mickey Mouse circuit, but it's the same for everyone, I guess. We had one or two tyre problems and found it a little difficult to manage the power in the slower part of the track, but it was very hot during the test.
“I think it will be cooler this weekend, which will hopefully help the tyres to work a little better as well. But I want to get back towards the top at Vallelunga and get some better results than I have had lately.”
Third rider Kenan Sofuoglu, meanwhile, arguably has the most experience of Vallelunga after winning the Supersport race there last year, although this will be his first attempt on a Superbike.
”Vallelunga was good for me last year in World Supersport and I won the race there from the front row. We tested the superbike earlier this year and, for sure, it's a very different circuit on a CBR1000RR than on the CBR600RR!
“The test will be important to try and get a better result, because Donington was certainly not good for me with the crash in the first race. My shoulder is getting better, though, and I have a few more days before I have to ride the bike, so it should not be a big problem.”