The Castrol Honda World Superbike Team completed a two-day private test at Phillip Island in Australia today, ahead of next week’s official test (21-22 February), which will be followed by the opening round of the 2011 World Superbike championship (25-27 February).
The team has been blighted by poor weather conditions in Europe over the winter and maximized the opportunity offered by dry conditions to test a number of new components on its Castrol Honda CBR1000RR Fireblades.
Jonathan Rea completed 102 laps yesterday and settled quickly into a fast rhythm around the sweeping 4.5km circuit, 150km south of Melbourne. However, in wet conditions this morning, the 24-year-old crashed at Phillip Island’s fast turn one.
Rea suffered neck pains and was transferred to a hospital for a scan, which was clear, but he missed the rest of the day’s testing program.
Rea’s Castrol Honda team-mate, Ruben Xaus, who will celebrate his 33rd birthday in Australia tomorrow, took full advantage of his first real opportunity to get some dry time on his new CBR1000RR.
Everything felt really good yesterday and we did more laps than we’ve done during the whole winter in Europe. This morning it was wet but, when it stopped raining and looked like clearing up, I went out but got off the bike quite quickly at turn one. I hurt my neck a bit but the paramedics insisted on putting me in a brace and taking me to hospital where it took about four hours to get a scan. Everything was fine and it was a little frustrating to lose the time today. But yesterday showed that we’re in a pretty good place, so I’m looking forward to some more testing on Monday.
I’m quite tired actually! I’ve done a lot of laps yesterday and today and this is quite a physical circuit. Combined with trying lots of different things and still a bit of jet-lag, it’s been a tough couple of days. But so far so good, and we’ve had to go through a lot of different things to learn more about the bike and how it behaves in different situations. I don’t want to go out and just give it full gas for three fast laps; I want to be able to go fast after a lot of laps, which is really important here. We know which direction we’re going in and we’ll follow that way when we come back on Monday and work a little more on stability through the corner.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
Well, Jonathan had quite a big off this morning, but everything was fine yesterday and I saw he Tweeted that the bike was ‘jammin’, which is a good thing I think! He was still on full wets this morning, even though the puddles had gone, and when he got back from the hospital it was quite late, so we gave him the rest of the afternoon off! Ruben and his crew have been going through a lot of work here because it’s been his first chance to ride the bike properly in dry conditions. They tried a lot of different settings and found a good way to head into the official tests next week.
[Press Release and Photos Courtesy of Castrol Honda]