Honda Racing duo Jonathan Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama are confident they have made progress with the set-up of the CBR1000RR during a private test at Assen, a week before the third round of the World Superbike Championship at the same venue.
In what is becoming a tradition for the Dutch-based Ten Kate Racing team, the Honda-supported outfit took to its local circuit prior to the WSBK event there in an effort to better understand the CBR1000RR, which has so far been unable to get on terms with the ultimate front runners this season.
Indeed, it is a strategy that has paid dividends in previous years, with Rea winning both WSBK races at Assen in 2010, while he was also a race winner at the circuit last season too following a test outing in the run up to the event.
Though cool temperatures and intermittent rain would hamper this year's test schedule, Rea believes the extra track time has helped Honda move forward in its quest to advance up the grid.
“It's been a little bit frustrating that we weren't able to get as much work done here as we wanted,” said Rea, who has managed a best finish of fourth in the opening four races. “It's been pretty cold and quite wet at times, so we've spent quite a lot of time sitting around. But we've worked on the front end and I've actually got a better feeling from there and an improved acceleration platform off the rear.
“We've also tried a few new electronics settings so we've been able to get a few things done which have moved us forward. We won't know how much further forward until we measure ourselves against everyone else next week, but I hope we'll be there or thereabouts for the team's home race.”
Team-mate Aoyama, meanwhile, has identified qualifying as his key area for improvement having failed to crack Superpole during his first two outings of the season. Nonetheless, having competed at Assen previously, the ex-MotoGP rider is feeling better about his chances for next week's event.
“I am quite positive, although I would have preferred better weather here to try some more settings to improve my feeling with the bike. But we definitely made some progress at Imola after the race and it was good to bring that to a circuit like Assen that I know a bit better.
“The grip levels with the harder tyre are now better and this was something I struggled with in Imola. I hope that we now have a good place to start when we come back for the race next week. I want to improve my qualifying performance because then I can compete more with the riders at the front.”