Hannspree Ten Kate Honda's new signing, Michele Pirro, believes he'll be capable of fighting at the front from the start of the 2010 World Supersport season.

The Italian, who finished twelfth overall during his debut 2009 WSS season on a Lorenzini by Leoni Yamaha, claimed a highly-competitive third place during the three-day Portimao test.

With team-mate and former champion Kenan Sofuoglu sidelined by a fractured ankle, it was left to the 23-year-old to undertake sole testing duties for the multiple title-winning Ten Kate team.

"Since I first rode for the team last November, the bike has improved a lot and I have a much better feeling," said Pirro.

"Electronics, suspension and the engine have all improved and I'm very happy with the work we have done over these three days.

"Unfortunately, the weather has not been so good and the track has been wet a lot of the time, so I was not able to push as hard as I wanted.

"It has been an important test though, and it confirmed to me that we can compete for the top positions when the season begins next month.

"My confidence is building all the time and I believe we can hope for a good result at the first race in Australia."

"Michele has done a great job here - he's consistently improving himself and working better all the time with his crew," added team manager Ronald ten Kate. "I believe there is a lot more to come and at least he won't be an unexpected surprise at the beginning of the season."

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