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Honda World Superbike Team harvests points in Australia

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Both Honda World Superbike Team riders, Jonathan Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama, took two top ten finishes in today's opening round of the 2012 World Superbike championship at Phillip Island in Australia. 
With the race victories going to Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa, Rea took seventh and fourth places in the two 22-lap outings, while his team-mate Aoyama finished eighth and ninth.
Starting from the outside of the second row, 25-year-old Rea enjoyed good starts to both outings. In race one, however, a lack of rear grip had dropped him back to seventh at the flag, while in race two, he held second place for much of the race after a set-up change improved grip levels. However, with just two laps to go, he slipped behind Biaggi and then lost out to fellow Brit Tom Sykes on the final straight.
After problems in qualifying, World Superbike rookie Aoyama, started from 16th on the grid. Opting for the softer rear tyre in both races, the Japanese rider fought through to the top ten in race one, while a small set-up change allowed him to make it a double in his debut SBK outing.
Jonathan Rea – 7th and 4th
We’ve still got a bagful of points to go on to Imola with but we wanted to be on the podium in both races. I honestly feel like we got a bad tyre in race one and in race two we didn’t want to run in the same situation, so we were thinking about changing the tyre, but all our logic and race runs throughout the weekend told us to keep this [harder] tyre in the heat. Directly, I had more grip – OK, the temperature was even hotter, which would go against our logic – but the tyre felt like it should feel and I was able to ride strong and consistent until probably five laps to go when durability fell off and I was going backwards. I felt fresh and strong in both races and the guys have worked well all weekend. We had a little crash on Saturday and the boys worked so good with the one-bike rule to get us back out there. You have to think that this circuit is a bit unique with the tyre character, how long you’re on the side and the heat generated in the tyre. Now we move on to some tracks that are good for us and there’s a lot of work to do back at base. The guys need to find some speed, so that’s on the agenda; I’ve just done a de-brief and everything feels OK. I want to say thanks to everyone for all their help this weekend – it feels good to get to the start of the season fit and healthy and I’m looking forward to round two now.
Hiroshi Aoyama – 8th and 9th

I think it’s not so bad for my first Superbike weekend. We had a not-so-easy start on Friday when I had one crash and we had a lot of problems. That didn’t help us to go much faster and we tried many things but couldn’t improve. In the races we managed to finish in the top ten with eighth and ninth and I want to say thanks to all the guys who worked for me. It was a tough weekend but ended up not too bad. I’m looking forward to the next race in Imola – of course I’ve never ridden there, so it’s going to be tough for Friday. We have month to improve the bike a little bit and, if I can find a better feeling, I can push a little bit more and this is what I am looking for. Anyway, considering the situation now, it’s not so bad!
Riders' comments are available to view on video at the following link
2012 World Superbike championship, round one
Phillip Island, Australia – 4.445km, 22 laps
Race 1 results:
1 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 34m13.963s
2 Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW +7.104s
3 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati +7.378s
4 Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki +12.189s
5 Jakub Smrz (CZE) Ducati +16.424s
6 Michel Fabrizio (ITA) BMW +20.200s
7 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike Team +20.223s
8 Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda World Superbike Team +24.108s
Race 2 results:
1 Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati 34m26.728s
2 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia +5.707s
3 Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki +12.521s
4 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda World Superbike +12.665s
5 Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW +18.179s
6 Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW +18.831s
9 Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Honda World Superbike Team +19.554s
Championship points after one of 14 rounds:
1 Biaggi 45, 2 Melandri 30, 3 Sykes 29, 4 Checa 25, 5 Rea 22, 6 Guintoli 16, 9 Aoyama 15
 Next round: Imola, Italy – 30 March - 1 April

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