Winston Ten Kate Honda's 2006 World Superbike championship pairing of Karl Muggeridge and James Toseland today completed a three-day test at the Losail circuit in Qatar in conjunction with tyre supplier Pirelli.
The duo tested new components on the 2005 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade in readiness for the 2006 version of the machine they will race in next season's World Superbike championship, which opens in Qatar on 25 February.
Ronald ten Kate - team manager:
"It's been a very busy three days in which we have tested all the material that we wanted to try - swingarms, linkage systems, engine parts, ignition and injection systems, front forks, etc. It took all of the first two days to get through everything, after which we concentrated on finding a good setting for the circuit. Until about mid-afternoon, we were hampered by chatter problems, which prevented either rider doing a very fast lap. However, both Karl and James are happy with the settings we've found and we're definitely in the right ballpark. It's been a very successful test to determine the direction that we head in next season because all the work was done with the 2005 bike. From now on, we'll build up the 2006 version of the Fireblade and concentrate on what we have discovered here in Qatar. We have a few options for our next pre-season test but the circuit here is one of our favourites."
Karl Muggeridge - best lap: 2m00.09s
"Three days is a long test and I'm pretty tired. I spent seven days back in Australia before coming here and had five days of treatment on my back so I'm shaping up pretty good physically again now. We came across this chatter problem today for some reason and one or two other niggles made things a little frustrating, but we definitely made some progress over the first two days. We were going well today, too, but the sun just drops out of the sky at around 5.00pm so we just ran out of time really. We've learned a heap about the bike which we'll be able to transfer to the 2006 machine so I think it would be a really good idea to come back here early next year to do some back-to-back comparisons."
James Toseland - best lap: 2m00.8s
"The chatter problem led us up against a brick wall for a while there but we found some new tyres from Pirelli that definitely helped. Everything was promising over the first two days as we got through the different parts we needed to test. We were able to do consistently fast laps but not one blistering one. To be honest, with the chatter problem, I feel I should have been about three seconds off the quick times rather than around one second, which is where I ended up. The different things we had to test made it a bit difficult to get into a rhythm and the chatter problem was a little frustrating. We tested a hell of a lot of stuff though, so we're all confident that we know which way to go. It was good just to ride the bike for three solid days in good weather - I did a lot of laps so I'm feeling pretty tired after it all. But I'm looking forward to getting the new bike, which is being launched by Honda here this week, and finding a good base setting for it."