Pata Honda prepared to go the distance
The Pata Honda pair of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam have come away from the final pre-season test at Philip Island confident that they have the pace for Sunday’s races, after using the final day to focus on race simulation.
Jonathan Rea, who finished in ninth overall, was able to use the test to concentrate on chassis set-up; something of a relief to the Northern Irishman, who has spent most of the winter getting the team’s revised electronics package into better shape.
"It's clear that we're starting the season in much better shape than last year but it's so, SO competitive. It's actually quite exciting!
"There are a few guys who've got a bit more ultimate pace than me, but Phillip Island is a race where you really have to work for the full 22 laps. Today, we focused more on that and, to be honest, we still have some work to do - quite a lot with the chassis to find a good balance for the circuit which demands a unique style of riding compared to European circuits.
"I also need to sort the final sector because until that point on the track I'm quite competitive. But with everything so close, I can't afford to give away three tenths in one sector.
"We'll take a good look at that and see what's what. The weekend should be quite exciting because nobody is head and shoulders above anyone else - it's very tight at the top!"
Teammate Haslam lost most of the second afternoon of the test to a vicious highside, but still managed to match Rea’s times over the two day event to finish eighth and come away content.
"It's been a good two days here after a tough pre-season with bad weather and new components. Since we got here though, everything has been running smoothly and we've been making good progress and taking the correct steps. We did some race runs on the first day yesterday and the time I did this morning was on an old tyre.
"This afternoon I had a big high-side on my first flying lap and missed the whole session. I'm pretty happy that my left leg stayed in one piece, but my backside is pretty sore! The temperature got up this afternoon and no-one was able to go any faster, so I think we can go into the weekend on a positive note."