A positive Ronald ten Kate says his Castrol Honda team is already looking ahead to the 2012 World Superbike Championship season as it prepares to take delivery of the new Honda Fireblade.
Castrol Honda has endured a troublesome 2011 World Superbike campaign thus far, underlined by the absence of lead rider Jonathan Rea, the Northern Irishman currently out of action due to injuries sustained in an accident at Misano.
Indeed, save for a fine weekend at Assen, where Rea scored a race win for the team, Honda has made it onto the WSBK podium just twice and is currently languishing seventh in the manufacturers' standings.
Despite this, team principal Ronald ten Kate remains optimistic about the situation, insisting morale is good, while he is confident Rea's imminent return at the Nurburgring will see Honda challenging towards the front of the field for the final races of the season.
“Morale is still up,” he said. “We have already switched our heads onto the 2012 season, so a lot of stuff we are testing now on the bike is for the 2012 season, plus we are very much looking forward to having Jonathan back on the bike for the Nurburgring.
Beyond that, ten Kate is also looking forward to the introduction of the 2012 Honda Fireblade, which will bring the manufacturer into line with many of its Superbike rivals in terms of technology, not least the fly-by-wire throttle system.
“We will have a new machine from Honda, an upgraded version of the Fireblade in 2012, though I can't reveal too much because Honda hasn't revealed the bike. The FIM has also made the decision that we can introduce fly-by-wire to the machines for next year, which we already have but isn't on the bikes yet.
“We are planning to use it in the private tests, so we will be ready for 2012. This season is virtually behind us, but when Jonathan returns, we will still be targeting podiums.”