The Castrol Honda World Superbike team has concluded its 2011 on-track activities with a three-day test at the Losail circuit in Doha, Qatar.
Jonathan Rea was joined by his 2012 team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, for the test with the riders completing differing agendas at the 5.38km desert circuit. Both used the 2011 version of Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade, which will be comprehensively updated next season with a 20th anniversary edition of the iconic sportsbike.
Rea, who missed four rounds of the 2011 season after wrist surgery following a crash at Misano, Italy in June, used the Qatar test to try a new swingarm, Ohlins suspension and other chassis components, which can be utilised on the new machine.
Aoyama, meanwhile, joined his new team for the first time in Qatar after completing the 2011 MotoGP season with Team San Carlo Honda Gresini. The Japanese rider spent the three-day test getting comfortable on the CBR machine and testing Pirelli tyres for the first time.
With a new testing ban from 1 December to 15 January imposed by World Superbike championship organizers, InFront Motorsports, the team will next be together for a private test at Phillip Island in Australia in January 2012.
We’ve got through a lot of work these three days and ended with two long runs today, which was pretty tough in the heat. We’ve tried heaps of stuff and, like the last couple of tests, we ended up running out of time. But it’s still been really productive and I’m looking forward to starting the next test on my favourite combination of components because we weren’t able to finish on that today. We’ve been making some quite big changes to the bike, just to feel the difference between the various set-ups and everyone has been working really well. It was good to be back at this circuit too; I like it here, and I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike again in January.
I got food poisoning before I left Spain to go for the test so I was a bit uncomfortable to start. Also, my leather suits didn’t arrive in time so I was forced to use an old one. But it was a very interesting test and a good opportunity for me to meet my new team and spend some time getting used to the new bike and the tyres. We still have some work to make the bike more comfortable for me to ride so I was not able to push really hard. I don’t know much about the bike yet and there is still a lot to discover, so I will continue to learn, little-by-little. But the test has been really good and I hope we’ll get some new materials for the next time I ride the bike
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
We set ourselves a lot of goals for the development of the bike for next season and we have managed to tick a lot of boxes during this test, so we can start putting the 2012 bikes together now. One of the other objectives we had was also to find a fast team-mate for Jonathan and we have definitely ticked that box too! Both riders were under the lap record here and it’s been very hot, with track temperature above 50 degrees. Jonathan has worked on chassis parts for the 2012 machine and we introduced ride-by-wire electronics for the first time for on-throttle riding. Before we have only used it on corner entry, but now we have been working on corner exit, too. The results of this have been very positive and clear. Hiroshi has obviously been getting used to the machine and, because of his size and weight, we need to make some new parts to make him really comfortable on the bike. Despite these problems, we’re still very satisfied with his times and looking forw ard to making further progress with both riders early next year.