Ten Kate Honda's start to the 2009 World Superbike Championship began with more of a whimper than a bang after all three of their riders experienced problems during the first day of action at Phillip Island.
After making the bold claim that he was on record-breaking pace during testing at the circuit last week, Jonathan Rea had been hopeful of a similar performance on his first competitive outing of the year.
However, the Northern Irishman's progress was hampered by a technical problem during free practice, one that prevented him from completing anything more than a 22-lap race simulation. Nonetheless, Rea is certain he will go quicker than his eventual 17th position during the all important Q2 session
“We lost a bit of time with technical problems on both my bikes this morning and then, this afternoon, I found it difficult to get one clear lap for a good time,” he said. “However, I did manage to put a full, 22-lap race simulation together, so we know where we are on that. We'll give it another go tomorrow and should be able to get a bit higher.”
Ten Kate's highest placed representative was Ryuichi Kiyonari in tenth position, the Japanese rider having held the top spot during provisional qualifying for nearly 40 minutes. However, having crashed during free practice, Kiyonari's day wasn't without its drama.
“I had a crash this morning after a silly mistake with my gear shift but a small change for this afternoon's session improved the bike some. The temperature was much higher this afternoon and I found it quite hard to adapt my riding style to the different levels of grip. However, we have a pretty good base set-up for different conditions tomorrow.”
Carlos Checa, meanwhile, admits he is feeling sore following his accident during testing a week ago, but reiterated his determination to race this weekend.
“My shoulder is quite uncomfortable after the crash last weekend but I took some anti-inflammatory medication and I was able to ride quite close to the limit this afternoon. The shoulder will be OK for Sunday, but we're not sure about the conditions and race tyre.
“We know that the race will be quite hard to manage after six or seven laps and, last year, the two races were run at completely different paces, so it's difficult to tell!”