Against expectation, a Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider is yet to stand on the World Superbike podium in 2009, with fourth place for Ryuichi Kiyonari in race two of round two at Qatar on Saturday the nearest the team has so far got.
The Japanese, a multiple race winner during his rookie 2008 season, missed out on a podium by just 0.2sec to Aprilia's Max Biaggi after the Roman failed to make the mistake Kiyonari had been hoping for
“In race one I had a very bad start and had to push hard at the beginning. After that it was difficult to keep the lap times,” said Kiyonari, who was eighth in race one. “We changed the tyre for race two and things felt much better, but, again, I had to push very hard and was maybe a bit too aggressive with the throttle at the beginning, trying to catch the leading group.
“When I reached Biaggi, I didn't have enough left to get past him. I hoped he might make a mistake to let me on to the podium, which would have been the best reward for my team who have worked so hard. But it didn't happen, so I had to accept fourth place.”
With two rounds gone, rookie Jonathan Rea is the highest ranked Ten Kate WSBK rider in eighth position, with Kiyonari just 13th in the standings and Carlos Checa 14th.
“I had quite bad chatter again in race one,” said Checa, who finished fifth and 13th. “We thought we had eliminated this problem after Phillip Island, but it was back and gave me quite bad arm pump. Unfortunately, it was even worse in race two and I also had a bad start which meant I had to try to pass many other riders. With the problems we had, I didn't really have the confidence to push as hard as I wanted. We'll work on everything before we get to Valencia and hope for better things there.”
“Obviously we have not had the results that we were looking for or that the hard work of the team deserved, said team manager Ronald ten Kate. “The highlight of the day was Kiyo's ride in race two. A podium finish would have been a nice reward for everyone but it wasn't to be. We will work hard between now and Valencia to get better results there.”