Having been narrowly defeated by Eugene Laverty and the 2009 CBR600RR last time out at Qatar, the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team is looking forward to running its own '09s for the first time this weekend at Valencia.
Ten Kate's reigning champion Andrew Pitt heads the standings by two points over team-mate and former champion Kenan Sofuoglu heading into round three, but with Parkalgar's Laverty just two points further behind after his debut WSS victory.
“Valencia will mark the first outing for our 2009 CBR600RR and we're very excited about that,” stated team manager Ronald ten Kate. “The first impressions show that there has been a very positive evolution of the bike that has won the last seven world championships for us and the new version is another step forward. We're definitely ready to rumble.”
Pitt, who has lost out on victory by less than 0.07sec at both races so far this year, has been training with WSBK title leader Ben Spies in the time since Qatar and expects to hit the ground running with the new machine.
“I've been in Italy since the last round, doing a lot of cycle training. I spent a few days with Ben Spies, who's got a nice place up by Lake Como, and it's been good to do some training with him,” said the Australian. “Valencia is not my favourite circuit and, although I don't have a problem doing a good lap time, the results have been hard to come by. But the team and I are pretty motivated with the arrival of the new bike. The Ten Kate boys know how to get the most out of Honda's CBR so we should hit the ground running and we'll aim for another good result.”
Round one winner Sofuoglu, who lost out on a Qatar podium finish to Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow, is also looking forward to the new equipment.
“I was a little sore from the two crashes I had during practice in Qatar, and a little frustrated and disappointed at finishing in fourth place there,” confessed the Turkish rider. “Now I am back to full strength and really hungry to be winning again. I have been so happy to be back on the CBR600RR this season but, although I am very attached to the old bike, I am really looking forward to riding the new one and will be aiming to give it a win in its first race.”