Ten Kate Honda are shifting their attentions to a final test a week before the opening round of the World Superbike Championship after rain played havoc with their developmental work in Portugal.

The 2007 champions came to Portimao keen to work on the progress made in South Africa before Christmas, but were forced to restrict their running as rain blighted all three days of testing.

With only one fully dry session throughout the weekend, Honda retained a low profile, with Carlos Checa proving their best placed rider with the fifth fastest time, four tenths off Shane Byrne's record-breaking time.

"We can't do anything about the conditions but we always look for a way forward to find something positive from the testing time available. We got a good feeling for the wet conditions but, of course, we had more things to try if it had stayed dry.

"Then we also lost the morning session on Sunday because another team put oil all round the circuit. Luckily, Phillip Island is a good place to start the season and we have a test there the week before the race, so we hope for some more positive developments then."

Although he suffered with set-up problems, Jonathan Rea was pleased to be back on the CBR1000RR following a lengthy break. As one of the best placed rookies in tenth position overall, the Northern Irishman is looking forward to the start of the season.

"It was really good to get back on the bike again with so many other teams here as well. Unfortunately, the base setting we found at the Kyalami test before Christmas didn't work so well here, but we're happy with the direction we've found in the time available.

"The weather's been bad but we found something in the dry on Saturday that wasn't too far off. We'll finish our winter testing in Phillip Island in three weeks and then start racing there, so I can't wait."

Of the three riders on track, it was Ryuichi Kiyonari that was courting the most attention after emerging on track with an alternately liveried Honda. Mimicking that of the HRC bike he took to victory in the 2008 Suzuka 8 Hours, Kiyonari otherwise struggled over the weekend and didn't once feature inside the top ten during the drier sessions.

"Friday was wet, so not so good. On Saturday we checked some settings and changed the riding position slightly and tried some new things. But the weather was really not very helpful for us and we couldn't do as much as we wanted to. I think the feeling from our base setting is definitely getting better after the Kyalami test, so I am looking forward to the season."

With a test planned at Phillip Island just before the start of the season at the same circuit, team manager Ronald ten Kate is hopeful of a good start to the year.

"The bad weather has clearly affected this test a lot and, to be really honest, it has minimised the usefulness of any information we have found. Although we didn't have such a long list of new things we wanted to try, we could still have benefited from some better conditions.

"So, we still have some more work to carry out at the Phillip Island test, but I'm already quite positive for a strong start to the season there.



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