Unsettled weather conditions in northern Holland produced a combination of sunshine and showers, as well as low track temperatures, which restricted the number of laps that riders Jonathan Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama were able to complete.
However, both declared themselves happy with the limited amount of development work that they and their respective crews were able to complete on the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade.
The 4.542km Assen circuit, known as ‘The Cathedral’, is just 50km north of the Honda World Superbike Team’s base at Nieuwleusen and serves as a convenient, local test circuit.
The team is managed by the Ten Kate organization, part of which is Ten Kate Motoren, one of Europe’s most successful Honda dealerships. The riders will stay in the area until next week’s WSBK round and take part in ‘Pit Stop Day’ at the dealership in Nieuwleusen this Saturday 14 April which is expected to attract around 7,000 motorcyclists.
It’s been a little bit frustrating that we weren’t able to get as much work done here as we wanted. It’s been pretty cold and quite wet at times, so we’ve spent quite a lot of time sitting around. But we’ve worked on the front end and I’ve actually got a better feeling from there and an improved acceleration platform off the rear. We’ve also tried a few new electronics settings so we’ve been able to get a few things done which have moved us forward. We won’t know how much further forward until we measure ourselves against everyone else next week, but I hope we’ll be there or thereabouts for the team’s home race.
Hiroshi Aoyama fell out of the oveall top ten after Imola, finishing 18th in Race 1 and failing to finish Race 2.
I am quite positive, although I would have preferred better weather here to try some more settings to improve my feeling with the bike. But we definitely made some progress at Imola after the race and it was good to bring that to a circuit like Assen that I know a bit better. The grip levels with the harder tyre are now better and this was something I struggled with in Imola. I hope that we now have a good place to start when we come back for the race next week. I want to improve my qualifying performance because then I can compete more with the riders at the front.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
We hoped the weather would be the same as this time last year, when it was quite warm, but we’ve still been able to work with a few new bits and pieces like front forks. We’ve also confirmed a new swingarm that we used at Imola and tried a few things with the electronics. The weather has not helped and it seemed there was an oil spillage during some racing here last weekend, so track conditions have not been ideal. We made some quite big changes to Hiroshi’s bike and he’s definitely getting there – finding grip on the harder tyre which he didn’t have before. And the forecast for next week suggests that we may not be using the soft option during the race weekend! We made some good steps forward along our development path at the Imola test but it’s always easier to see what progress you’re making when there are other superbikes on the track.