Pata Honda riders looking towards the future

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The Pata Honda pair of Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea are both looking forwards to a fresh start in 2014, after a disastrous 2013 season saw both riders sidelined with broken legs at different points in the season.

Speaking at the team’s recent unveiling at the Verona Motorcycle Show, only 70km from crisp manufacturer Pata’s base, Rea said that despite still not feeling fully recovered, he believes he’ll be fighting fit come Philip Island in three weeks.

“It was quite difficult at times in 2013 and the season ended badly in injury, but my leg feels OK now. It’s not quite 100% and I have some discomfort walking on it, but on the bike its fine. This team feels like a family to me now and knowing all the faces and how the team works helps me to get the best out of the package and the people around me. We all share the same goals but it feels like there’s been a change of mentality for this season – everyone is even more focused than usual. By the time we get to Phillip Island we will have tested a lot, and we’re really pushing hard, so I think that if anyone is in good shape to challenge at the front when the season starts, it’ll be me and my team.”

Haslam, whose round two crash meant he spent most of the season on the back foot, says he is relishing the chance to show what he’s actually capable on the Fireblade machinery.

“Last season was definitely one to forget for me. We started a little bit on the back foot and then I broke my leg just after round two. I’m training again quite strongly now and the team’s been working 24-7 on the bike, mainly on the electronics, so we’ll be aiming to maximise what we have from the start of the season and see where that puts us. It’s fantastic to have Pata back on board this year – it’s a really good, family-run company and I didn’t really get a chance to show them what I’m capable of last year. I’d love to repay them with some podiums and some wins this season and have some good after-race parties!”

After struggling with uncompetitive machinery in 2013 as well, team boss Ronald ten Kate believes that big changes made to the team’s troublesome electronics in the off season should close the gap to their rivals.

“It’s clear that 2013 wasn’t a great year for us – the riders got injured quite heavily but, in a way, that allowed us to step back and review the whole situation, looking at the bike and what we would be needing for the coming season. So, we’ve had a big development plan and brought in a lot of parts for the bike. The electronics have been upgraded massively over the winter and we’ve got a good testing programme, so I think we can say we’re better prepared than ever before.”

As well as Haslam and Rea, Michael van der Mark and Lorenzo Zanetti will also compete in Pata colours in the World Supersport series.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer