Michael van der Mark says a minimum of top five finishes will be the goal at Imola as he continues evaluate new settings and changes on the Honda after being unable to complete them at Assen due to the weather.
The Dutch rider suffered one of his worst race weekends at Imola last year in his rookie World Superbike campaign when he struggled to ninth in the opening race before retiring from race two.
As a result, with the upgrades he and the Ten Kate squad have made to the Fireblade CBR1000RR SP over the past 12 months van der Mark feels he can challenge much higher this weekend but it still taking a pragmatic approach to the Italian round.
“I'm really looking forward to Imola, a track that I really enjoy riding,” van der Mark said. “With the big improvements made to the Fireblade over the winter and in the first four rounds, I'm pretty sure we will be much more competitive than last year.
“Given the many podiums we have collected so far, my goal for the Italian round is to be at least in the top 5. The team and I have some ideas to improve the bike setup and we will try some new things, which we didn't have time to evaluate in Assen.”
After his mixed results in Assen last time out van der Mark holds a distant fourth in the World Superbike championship standings but is 33 points ahead of team-mate Nicky Hayden in fifth.