NURBURGRING BECKONS HONDA RIDERS

Hiroshi Aoyama with his crew

Hiroshi Aoyama with his crew

Jonathan Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama will take different approaches to this weekend’s (7-9 September) 12th round of the 2012 World Superbike championship at the Nurburgring in Germany.

For Rea, the 5.137km circuit nestling in the Eifel mountains has been a happy hunting ground since his SBK debut in 2009 and the 25-year-old took three podiums, including two wins, in his first four races there. Last year marked Rea’s return to racing following a three-month injury layoff, but he still took a fourth place in atrocious conditions in race two.

This weekend’s World Superbike event follows a two-day test with the Repsol Honda MotoGP team as Rea embarks on a hectic five-week programme in which he will replace the injured Casey Stoner. Two MotoGP races at Misano and Aragon will be dovetailed with the final three rounds of the SBK season.

For Rea’s Honda World Superbike team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, the Nurburgring will be a new circuit. However, the 30-year-old Japanese rider was on the pace from day one at the last SBK round in Moscow – a brand-new circuit on the calendar.

Aoyama will therefore be looking to carry forward the speed he showed in Russia, together with a better feeling with his bike, on to a circuit where Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade has performed well in the past.

Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea
I’ve certainly got a tough few weeks coming up, competing in two world championships, but I’ve enjoyed everything so far – it’s going to be an incredible experience. I’m really looking forward to this Nurburgring weekend – I like the circuit and I’ve had some success there in the past. We struggled a little at Brno and Silverstone, but managed to sort a few things for the last round in Russia. Although the results didn’t show it, I was much happier with the feel of the bike and we were able to cure a problem with engine braking which had almost crept up on us unnoticed. I’m excited to see how the CBR performs at the Nurburgring and to see if we can maintain the pace that we ended up showing in Moscow. We’re going into the last three rounds of the season now and the team is working just as hard as they were at the beginning of the year, coming up with new things to try. Hopefully, that will al low us to consolidate and even improve our championship position in the last few races.

Hiroshi Aoyama
I was happy after the race in Moscow that we had found a much better feeling on the bike. I enjoyed taking part in my first Superpole and, even though the results in the two races were very disappointing – especially when another rider crashed into me on the first lap in race two – I enjoyed the weekend in Russia. Of course, the Nurburgring is another new circuit for me but I know that Jonathan has had some good results there before. I look forward to riding at the circuit and I hope we can have another good weekend and this time get some better results.

Ronald ten Kate– team manager
It was certainly a hectic event in Russia, both on the track and off it – in fact, getting the trucks in and out was an event in itself. But we still managed to get a few days to work on the bikes when we returned to prepare for Nurburgring. It’s a great circuit to race at so we’re looking forward to the weekend. Of course, the big news since Moscow is that Jonathan has tested with the MotoGP team at Brno and, this week, in Aragon, so this should be an exciting motivation for him. We hope he can gel again quickly with his CBR but, looking at his calendar for the coming weeks, he can probably rent out his new house for a while! When the request came through, we had a sit-down to discuss it all with Jonathan, but we didn’t want to prevent him enjoying this opportunity so we were happy to release him during this period. These are exciting times for all of us but, of course, we’re looking forward to a solid weekend at Nurburg ring. It’s a new track and a new challenge for Hiroshi but he made a good step forward at Moscow. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to turn his practice and qualifying performance into good race results but we hope that he can bring that form from Russia with him to Germany.

2012 World Superbike championship, round 12

Nurburgring, Germany – weekend schedule (local times – GMT+2)

Friday 7 September
11.45-12.30 Free practice
15.30-16.15 Qualifying 1

Saturday 8 September
09.45-10.30 Qualifying 2
12.30-13.15 Free practice
15.00-15.14 Superpole 1
15.21-15.33 Superpole 2
15.40-15.50 Superpole 3

Sunday 9 September
09.20-09.35 Warm-up
12.00 Race 1 (20 laps 102.74km)
15.30 Race 2 (20 laps 102.74km)

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