WORDS FROM PITLANE: "We are enjoying this moment… Bulega’s proven me right, riding fantastically"

With the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship getting underway at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, it was a chance to catch up with key personnel from the paddock. Team Managers and Champions were on hand during the Pirelli Catalunya Round to give us their thoughts on the weekend, specific riders and more.

REBUILDING CONFIDENCE: “step by step, it seems we’ve been able to do that”

After a difficult Australian Round, Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) was back in the top four on Friday. Talking about the #65 bouncing back, and talking about whether Rea’s teammate, Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha), will win, Team Principal Paul Denning said in FP2: “The test was a good reset, really. ‘Loka’ was already flying in Australia and has a good rhythm. It was really just a question of rebuilding confidence and rhythm step by step, and it seems we’ve been able to do that according to this race weekend. It was very unfortunate what happened on the final lap of the race at Phillip Island. He really was in contention for the victory. Whether it can happen here or Assen, I’m not quite sure, but he’s going to win a race this year for sure.”

GOOD VIBES AT TEAM GOELEVEN: “we are enjoying this moment”

Andrea Iannone’s arrival at Team GoEleven was immediately rewarded with a podium. Discussing the atmosphere in the team and the importance of the next two rounds, Team Manager Denis Sacchetti said: “I think that Barcelona and Assen will say what the real level of the riders is. We’re really happy about Australia, it’s fantastic, and for him also after four years. Australia is Australia, it’s a different race. There is a different atmosphere, asphalt, tyres, many things compared to Europe and in Barcelona and Assen. We have to wait for here and Assen to understand what the potential of each rider in this Championship is. The atmosphere now is good. We are enjoying this moment for us and Andrea. It’s an incredible emotion for us and we’re living this with him. Now, everything is good, but we’re focused on our work and our job and our goal.”

BUSY TIME FOR HONDA: “we’re still trying to find the best way for us”

Honda introduced a new bike for 2024 but have found the going tough so far. Discussing their progress and plans, and Iker Lecuona using an old swingarm, Team HRC Team Manager Jose Escamez said: “At the moment, we’re still trying to find the best way for us. The old swingarm with different combinations is something we’ve been trying for engine brake. We thought it could be one of the solutions. It hasn’t been proved yet. Maybe we can try it again during this weekend just to get a better idea about how the bike behaves with this engine brake.”

When asked during FP1 whether he’d be worried about bad results at a circuit Honda’s previously gone well at, Escamez said: “No. Absolutely not. This is just one more round. It’s true in the past Iker had good results before, with third at Assen and a pole position, in the same way Xavi had a podium in Indonesia. We’re still working. We need to be patient.”

MELANDRI ASSISTING BASSANI: “Marco agreed to come back and try to make this small extra step…”

First spotted at the Supported Test, 22-time WorldSBK race winner Marco Melandri was back with Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) at the Catalunya Round: Discussing this, Team Manager Guim Roda said: “Marco has a friendly relationship with Axel’s manager, and Axel is starting to see that many riders come with some people to support him on the track, and they tried that in the test, everyone was happy with Marco’s explanations and Marco agreed to come back and try to make this small extra help that sometimes the riders need to improve.”

SYKES ON BULEGA: “he’s the number one favourite for me at this moment”

2013 Champion Tom Sykes ventured to Barcelona for his favourite type of holiday – watching bikes and drinking coffee – and he spoke about rookie Nicolo Bulega’s (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) impressive start to 2024: “I stand by it, and I called it fairly early last year. I knew his transformation would be silky smooth and he’s only proven me right. He’s riding fantastically and got to grips with everything from the get-go. I really think he’ll continue his run of success here. I think he’s the number one favourite for me at this moment. Alvaro seems to be getting back to where he wants and needs to be. It’s going to be interesting. Lots of movement with Jonathan, Toprak… let’s see what happens. There’s a long list of riders and we’ve not got time to go through them all in detail!”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

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