Having missed several pre-season tests, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda believes it is finally be back on 'level ground' with its rivals, after testing a series of new engine and chassis parts for the '08 CBR1000RR during last week's Valencia test.

Former MotoGP rider Carlos Checa was fastest of the Ten Kate trio; the local star setting the fourth fastest lap time on a qualifying tyre - just a quarter of a second behind surprise pace setter Karl Muggeridge - and he was only half a second slower on a race tyre.

"We've had a positive test here in Valencia," confirmed the WSBK rookie, who took his first podium last time out at Phillip Island. "We have been consistent in our lap times. We've tried different things, swing-arms, links and tyres. We spent a lot of time on that area to find out which base setting we'll be using here for the next race. I'm confident with the base setting, with the qualifiers we tested we experienced some chatter problems again. We come better prepared for the next race here in Valencia then we did for Qatar and Australia so I leave here with a confident feeling."

Fellow rookie and reigning double BSB champion Ryuichi Kiyonari finished the test one place and less than 0.4secs behind the #7.

"We've tested lots of different parts here, different swing arm, links and brakes. The machine setting was very good and I feel we have made some good progress. I start to understand the machine better every time I go out on the track and I am happy with the improvement of my laps," said the Japanese. "We're leaving here well prepared for the Valencia race in a couple of weeks. Normally we still have some work to do on Friday before the race but with the progress we have already made here we should be capable of find the right setting straightaway."

"This test has been our first real opportunity to test the new engine and chassis parts we had developed but hadn't been able to test before," revealed team manager Ronald ten Kate. "The race pace is showing to be very good at the moment. We still have some new parts to develop before the next outing but will not put too many new parts on the machine before the race. At least we can now say we are on level ground again and from the start of the race weekend should be capable of joining the frontrunners without having to make up 1.5 or 2 seconds like we had in the first two race. I am confidently looking forward to the race here in Valencia."

But it wasn't all good news for Ten Kate, since reigning World Supersport champion Kenan Sofuoglu struggled badly at the test - which he later described as his hardest ever.

The young Turkish rider didn't test any new parts, but is having difficulty adjusting his proven Supersport style to a 1000cc Superbike. Kenan left the test just 15th out of the 16 riders and 2.5secs from the top.

"This has been the hardest test I've ever done," he confessed. "I didn't try anything different on the bike as the bike feels good, but I just do not seem to make any progress at the moment, which is very disappointing for my team and myself. I'm going home to Turkey now and hope to be in better shape when we come back here again for the next race."

The third round of the 2008 World Superbike Championship takes place back at Valencia on April 6.

 

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