Pata Honda riders ready for Italian challenge

Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark are preparing with their Pata Honda team for this weekend`s (8-10 May) fifth-round World Superbike championship event at Imola in Italy and aiming to continue the forward strides made last time out.

Van der Mark took a brace of third-place rostrum finishes in his home round at Assen in the Netherlands three weeks ago, his maiden visit to the World Superbike podium with the Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP in his rookie season.

The 22-year-old Dutch rider, who won last season`s World Supersport championship, had already shown his potential by leading in the opening round in Australia but demonstrated in abundance his individual talent and the undoubted potential of his CBR`s performance package at Assen.

His Pata Honda team-mate, Sylvain Guintoli, has spent the opening rounds adjusting to a machine with very different characteristics to that which took him to the 2015 World Superbike title.

However, the experienced 32-year-old French ace, left Assen in a confident mindset having made a number of positive adjustments to his CBR set-up and his own riding style that allowed him to match lap times of the leading riders in both outings.

Both riders claim a particular fondness for the iconic 4.936km Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, close to the centre of Imola, which is steeped in motorsport history. Both Guintoli and van der Mark have visited the Imola podium in previous races but none has thus far climbed the stop step.

2015 World Superbike championship, round five
Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari – Imola, Italy
Event schedule (local times GMT +2):

Friday 8 May
11.15-12.00 – Free practice 1
15.00-15.45 – Free practice 2

Saturday 9 May
09.45-10.30 – Free practice 3
12.30-13.00 – Free practice 4
15.00-15.15 – Superpole 1
15.25-15.40 – Superpole 2

Sunday 10 May
08.40-08.55 – Warm-up
10.30 – Race 1 (19 Laps, 93.784km)
13.10 – Race 2 (19 Laps, 93.784km)

Sylvain Guintoli
Assen started as quite a difficult weekend for us but we ended up closer than we have been to the guys at the front. It was another important stepping stone to getting up there, and at least I can see what`s going on now! It was a mixture of changes to the CBR, my own riding style and the Assen circuit suiting the package but it was definitely a boost that we were able to catch the leaders in the first part of both races. It seems like Imola also suits the CBR because Johnny (Rea) had such a strong weekend there last season. It`s very technical and physical, and tough on both riders and bikes, so I`ve been training hard since Assen But it`s a great track with its own personality and it certainly gives us, as riders, an extra adrenalin shot.

Michael van der Mark
I actually got to Italy a few days early so I`ve been relaxing and driving around and enjoyed a visit to San Marino. It was fairly quiet after the busy weekend at Assen, but it was good to meet some fans at the Ten Kate Pitstop Day the following Saturday, even though the weather wasn`t very kind. I`m really looking forward to getting back into action at Imola though. I really like the circuit but I know it will be very different on a Superbike than it was on my CBR600RR from last year. I hope we can make the Fireblade work as well here as Jonathan Rea made it work last season, but we have quite different settings, so it won`t be easy. But we definitely found something really positive at Assen, working together as a team and analyzing the data, so we`ll be looking for more this weekend in Italy.

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