Although Nicky Hayden may have been the Ten Kate Honda rider that grabbed most of the headlines through the offseason, Michael van der Mark ended the two-day World Superbike test in Phillip Island fourth fastest, three places ahead of his more experienced team-mate.
Entering his second season in the class, the Dutchman was content with his consistency through the two days and believes fighting for podium finishes at the Australian track is not completely out of the question.
“I'm really happy with how the test went,” said van der Mark on Tuesday evening. “With the cooler conditions encountered yesterday we were able to be both fast and consistent and we're really happy with that. This morning I was fast again but then we changed something on the bike and lost a bit of direction as the temperatures increased.
“We tried a race simulation that wasn't perfect but towards the end of the day we made some further adjustments and the bike felt much better. I now know that we can be fast in both warmer and cooler conditions and this makes me confident for the opening round here.”
After the first day of testing on Monday, the 2014 World Supersport champion explained how he had found an instant positive feeling with the CBR 1000RR using similar settings to those with which he raced a year ago.
“We started in morning and immediately from the first lap I had a good feeling. During the first session I didn't change so much. During the end I put a really fast lap time in. I think it was faster than I did last year. I was really happy with that.
“For the afternoon we tried a couple of things and it didn't work so I had to change to the other bike. It wasn't the same. You know, I have a good feeling. We are consistent and quite fast. For me 2016 is more easy. I've got one year of experience. You know what you've done at this place and you just go in more relaxed than the first year.
Asked what his hopes were for the first round of 2016, van der Mark replied, “I hope to finish the race. No, last year was one of the strongest races. At Phillip Island everyone can be fast. Especially the start on Monday felt like a good base.
"Also, the consistency was not too bad. I felt we could be a little bit faster but I think if we keep working in the right direction for this weekend there must be a possibility for podiums.”