Ten Kate Honda riders Jonathan Rea, Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari will be hoping to convert horsepower into their first podiums of the 2009 World Superbike season, at the high-speed Monza circuit on Sunday.
After the first four rounds, rookie Rea is the Dutch team's leading rider, but only ninth in the championship standings with a best race finish of fifth.
“Monza is very fast, which should suit the bike quite well,” confirmed Rea. “I didn't have much luck last year and lost the clutch in the Supersport race, but it's an amazing circuit - unlike anywhere else in the world - and it has some really nice features.”
“I'm hoping for some good weather that will allow us to get near the front as soon as possible," added Checa, presently eleventh in the title chase. "It might take a little longer this time because our main rivals tested there before Assen but, by Saturday, I hope we'll be up there. I don't think we'll have an issue with the bike's power so I aim to be fighting at the front in Sunday's races.”
Kiyonari came within 0.051sec of victory in race one at Monza last season, but incredibly that was only enough for third position behind race winner Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) and second placed Max Neukirchner (Suzuki).
“I like Monza and had a good result last year,” said Kiyo, currently just 15th in the championship. “It requires three days of very intense concentration but the three long straights should suit my bike, which is very fast. If I ride OK and have some luck, I think I will make a good result.”
The only Honda rider to take a podium finish so far this year is Stiggy's Leon Haslam, who has climbed the rostrum three times for third in the point standings.