Carlos Checa is confident he can challenge for victory in the latest World Superbike round at Magny-Cours after getting a head start on his rivals by testing there last week.
His first visit to the French circuit, the test was supposed to give the Spaniard a chance to learn his way around the flowing track, as well as fettle a good set-up for the weekend.
Coming to this round having been confirmed as a Ten Kate Honda rider for 2009 too, Checa is likely to be responsible for the team's fortunes at Magny-Cours following team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari's injury.
Nonetheless, Checa believes they have a solid base to start from following testing, so is hopeful if the weather remains consistent.
“The test last week was very positive and the most important thing it provided was an opportunity for me to learn the track. Magny-Cours is a very nice circuit and I liked it a lot. We had some good weather, which makes it much more enjoyable. We found a good set-up, even though we were on base level Pirelli tyres, but there are still some areas to improve.
“We were also able to test some new parts. Because the CBR1000RR is new this year, there was no data from last season's race, so it's important that we have a good base to start from on Friday. I only hope we have similar weather conditions for the weekend.”
With the assurance of a ride for 2009, albeit in Supersports, Kenan Sofuoglu is eager to bring his disappointing 2008 season to a satisfying close, even if he admits he is still reeling from the injuries sustained at Vallelunga,
“My crash in Vallelunga was very big and I was quite sore afterwards. I did some laps at the test last week but I could not get comfortable on the bike so it was best that I didn't continue. I felt that we made a step forward at the last round and I was very confident for the races, but two crashes were not the results I was hoping for. I will try my best to make more progress this weekend.”
Kiyonari's replacement this weekend will be German IDM Superbike Champion Martin Bauer.