The following is from Honda Motor Company...Italian World Superbike at Imola
Tuesday September 21 2010
World Superbike and World Supersport preview
4.936km circuitREA TARGETS MORE WINS AS SOFUOGLU AND LAVERTY SLUG IT OUTJonathan Rea's rich seam of form on his Hannspree Ten Kate Honda has seen him post six podium finishes in the past six races, including two wins, making him the form man in the Superbike World Championship right now.His latest results, a win and a second place at the Nürburgring earlier this month, have seen him move to within 51 points of second place runner Leon Haslam. Jonathan has now extended his advantage over fourth place runner Carlos Checa to 64 points.Jonathan has tested the CBR1000RR Honda at Imola this year, as part of a two-day official tyre evaluation session held after the Misano round in June. He was in the top four ranking in terms of best lap times, heading up most of his main rivals.In the Supersport World Championship the big fight will once more feature the only two riders who can win the championship now, leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda). Laverty is now 12 points behind Sofuoglu, meaning that even if he wins both remaining races, and Kenan finishes second each time, Sofuoglu will win the championship by two points. Sofuoglu was the fastest WSS rider in the summer tyre tests sessions at Imola, an event that Laverty's team did not attend.Superbike rider Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) is a big fan of the Imola circuit, and was also a rider to be able to test there after the Misano round. The German competitor has had a tough season in 2010, and is looking to break into the top ten places again.Local man Fabrizio Lai will once more ride for the ECHO CRS Honda Superbike team, with his home round providing motivation to make only his second career World Superbike race a memorable one.Gino Rea (Intermoto Czech Honda) made a real breakthrough in the WSS class at the previous round in Germany, taking a close second place just behind Laverty until he was excluded from the results for a technical infringement. He now knows, however, he can run at a true competitive pace, and is out to repeat that level of performance at Imola.Michele Pirro from the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team arrives back home in Italy for the Imola race after running a one-off race for the Gresini MotoGP team in Moto2 at Aragon. Pirro is still battling the effects of a lingering wrist injury, but scored a top eight finish last time out in WSS in Germany.Intermoto Czech Honda rider Massimo Roccoli is looking forward to some kind of repeat of his strong raceday showing at Imola in 2009, where he was running in fifth before being forced out of the race. He has had changeable fortunes so far in 2010; from a top six finish in the first WSS race in Australia to two non-finishes, at Valencia and Kyalami. Now recovered from an illness that plagued him last race weekend, he is looking for a season-best ride at home.Miguel Praia, from the Parkalgar Honda Supersport team, was unlucky to crash and then remount to finish 13th at the Nürburgring round, but his general rate of progress has been at career-best levels recently. Now 13th in the points' rankings, he is only six points from Pirro in eighth place, meaning the midfield battle cannot fail to be an intense one again in Italy.The final round of both Superbike and Supersport Championships take place at Magny-Cours the weekend after Imola, with raceday on Sunday 3 October.WSBK Rider CommentsJonathan Rea, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR: "I've been enjoying myself on the Isle of Man since that good weekend in Germany, which made it six pretty good races in a row. I'd really like to carry on that podium run at Imola this weekend, although the races last year weren't so good. But we worked on a new area of the bike during the Imola test in the summer - we really thought outside the box - and made some pretty good progress. We'll start with something between that and the Nürburgring settings on Friday morning and work methodically from there, without getting carried away. Then, I hope, we'll be there or thereabouts come Sunday morning."Max Neukirchner, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR: "Imola is a very special place, a great circuit to ride and a lot of history. But my memories here until this year are not so good. However, we were able to find quite a good way forward on the second day of our test here in July, so we will start from that position and try to move forward from there. I cannot deny that I was quite upset after a crash in the first race at Nürburgring that was followed by a very different tyre in race two; it made the weekend very difficult. But I am feeling positive again now and I am determined to enjoy the last two races of the season as much as possible and get the best results that I can for the team."Fabrizio Lai, ECHO CRS Honda CBR1000RR: "I'm very happy to run for the first time in Italy in WSBK. We should work hard to find a good set-up and try to put in as many laps as possible to improve the feeling with the bike. The goal is to score points and I am convinced that the team will do everything to help me."WSS Rider CommentsKenan Sofuoglu, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR: "I have been training hard in very hot weather to prepare for this race in Imola. It's been a very good season so far and now we are getting towards the end, so we want to keep it going. Imola is one of my favourite circuits and I was able to get a very fast lap time during our test their in July so I am really looking forward to the weekend. I really want to go for another win in Imola so that there is not so much pressure in the last race at Magny-Cours. However, we all know that it will be very tough and that we need a lot of luck in Imola to make it happen the way we want."Eugene Laverty, Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR: "This will be a very important weekend between me and Kenan. He will be going in with the same attitude as me because I am closing in on him. He knows he needs to win, and I definitely need to win because I have absolutely nothing to lose after what happened in Germany. When Gino Rea got disqualified, I really could have done without that. I think this weekend will decide things, so I don't think Kenan is going to sit there and settle. There will be other factors at work this weekend, Gino and Broc Parkes should be strong again and Chaz Davies, he was good at Imola last year in his debut WSS race."Michele Pirro, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR: "My wrist has improved since the last race at Nürburgring and then I took part in the Moto2 race at Aragon for the Gresini Honda team. I enjoyed it very much and was happy to qualify on the second row ahead of Tony Elias! I was able to ride well in the race but my wrist became quite painful towards the end of the race so I couldn't get the result I wanted. Our test at Imola in July was not so bad so I will be trying really hard to get a good result at the weekend. I've had some problems this year, but I really want to end the season in a very good way."Gino Rea, Intermoto Czech Honda CBR600RR: "It was disappointing to be excluded at the last race but I think we will be back up there at Imola. We had a good race in the previous round in Germany because we concentrated on making the rear tyre last for the whole race. I was glad that I could stay so close to the leader for the full race distance and want to repeat that this weekend."Massimo Roccoli, Intermoto Czech Honda CBR600RR: "I would like to finish the last two rounds of the season in a good way. Last year at Imola I was going well but then I made a mistake and that ruined the result. I'm very focused on this weekend's race because I want to give all of my fans some satisfaction."Miguel Praia, Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR: "Imola was my best race last year so I am very motivated, especially after my small crash at the Nürburgring and then only finishing 13th. That pushed me down the rankings a bit, so I want to put everything together again this weekend and move back up again. We had the speed in Germany and if it was not for the crash I could have been in the top places again. I like Imola, it was my best result of last year, and so I am going all out for a top five finish this time."