Raffaele de Rosa and the Pro Ride Honda team took some crumbs of comfort from the opening round of the World Superbike Championship after the Italian finished in 17th position race two.

De Rosa, making his debut in World Superbikes this season, was forced to miss the opening race after a handlebar bracket broke on the grid moments before the warm-up lap.

A quick-shifter issue in race two hampered de Rosa's chances of finishing in the points at Phillip Island, but nonetheless the team was glad to leave the Australian venue with a result as they aim to build on the performance at the next round at Imola.

"During the first part of the race I had fun, also passed some riders. I started behind, but I felt I was strong right in the first laps," said de Rosa. "Then I overtook some riders and got more motivated with the race and the bike. From the second half of the race on I had some problems in managing the quick-shifter, but until that point I was having fun.

"Being my first race in the Superbikes I can say it was a good one, even if honestly we are missing more track tests. Besides, I didn't make race one and I couldn't get any experience for race two. So taking these things into account that was the result we were expecting. Let's see at Imola."

Although de Rosa struggled to make an impact in the Moto2 class in the past two seasons prior to his World Superbike switch, he previously finished on the rostrum in the 250cc Grand Prix class and finished sixth overall in 2009.

And the Italian-based Pro Ride team is confident de Rosa will become much stronger in his rookie World Superbikes season as the campaign progresses.

The team's manager and technical director, Marco Nicotari, said: "In race one we had a problem, something that had never happened before: the handlebar bracket broke at the starting grid and we couldn't start.

"For race two we prepared the bike with the same setting we had planned for race one and at the end everything was alright. We knew that the consumption of the tyres was excessive here, but at the end of the race our tyres were in the same conditions of the other bikes.

"The lap times were more or less the same of what we have done during the tests and the racing weekend. So now we have a two seconds gap and we evaluate that we can decrease this gap at the most to 0.8 seconds, that it is our gap from the first riders," he added.

"We need to work in order to help Raffaele to learn all the characteristics of this class that is completely different from Moto2...the characteristics of the Pirelli tyres [and] the characteristic of a bike much more powerful and with electronics.

"And this is a lot to learn in only one race weekend. In my opinion it was a good race. While he was among other riders and overtaking them he was having fun. Now it's time to work to Imola."

Pro Ride has had a tumultuous association with the World Superbike Championship, submitting entries in 2009 and 2010, but failing to make it onto the grid on both occasions, although it was involved with MZ Racing's Moto2 effort last year.


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