Here's the next World Superbike preview for the upcoming race at Assen, this from the Castrol Honda team:
Castrol Honda team heads home to Assen
The Castrol Honda team is making final preparations for round three of the 2011 World Superbike championship at Assen in The Netherlands this weekend (15-17 April).
With the team's base just 50km south of the famous Dutch TT circuit, Assen represents a home race for Castrol Honda, even though its riders Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus hail from Northern Ireland and Spain respectively.
Rea enjoyed a triumphant weekend last season at the Assen round, taking his first World Superbike pole position, enjoying his first double race win and setting a new circuit lap record into the bargain. The 24-year-old, who is now based in the Isle of Man, currently lies in sixth place in the World Superbike standings with a best finish of fourth place in race two at the season opener in Phillip Island, Australia.
Xaus, too, has enjoyed victory champagne at the 4.542km Assen track dubbed ‘The Cathedral' by fans. He won race one in 2003 and was second in race two and the Spaniard has enjoyed three other podium finishes at Assen, most recently in 2007.
Xaus joined the Castrol Honda team for the 2011 season but bad weather precluded much of his pre-season testing on the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. The 32-year-old has enjoyed two top ten finishes so far this season and is looking for better things at Assen.
I'm really excited to be heading back to Assen this weekend as I have a lot of good memories from there. Like last year, I've been camping in the motorhome at the workshop for the last week or so and doing some PR stuff for the team and the circuit. We also had the Ten Kate Pit Stop Day last Saturday, which was a great opportunity to meet the fans at the workshop in Nieuwleusen. At the weekend, we'll obviously be looking to capitalize at the team's home circuit where we tested a lot last year and where we know the Honda Fireblade works really well. After the unforgettable weekend we had last year, there's obviously a bit of pressure, but we'll just work steadily over Friday and Saturday to put ourselves in a good position for Sunday and try to get our season started properly. Ruben Xaus
I spent last Saturday at the team's workshop for Pit Stop Day which was a very nice experience with very many people. This weekend at Assen, we just need everything to be normal so we can make the next step forward. Friday at Donington Park went very well but then we were affected by the cold weather and struggled a little bit. Assen should be better and we know how hard everyone is working to improve things – but the competition has improved also, so it's not an easy job. I like the Assen circuit very much and, although not as good as Jonathan's weekend last year, I have had some great results and good battles there over the years. I have some good feelings for this weekend and I hope Assen will be the turning point for us as we head into better weather for rest of the season. Ronald ten Kate – team manager
The home round is always very special for the team and it's fantastic for everyone to have so many friends and family there. It will also be very busy with guests in our hospitality, so we're looking forward to welcoming everyone to our home and I hope we can lay on some good entertainment for them. Jonathan's injuries from the start of the season are now behind us so let's see what he can do now that he's fully fit again. The crew has continued development work on the CBR because, despite last year's double win, we have quite some areas where we want to improve the machine and our aim is to put it on the podium again in both races this weekend. Ruben continued to gel with the team and the machine at Donington and he is still going faster every time he goes out; another step forward at Assen can put him up with the leading group. The long-term weather forecast looks OK, so we're all hoping for a sunny weekend.