After an extended summer break, the Pata Honda World Supersport team is heading to the Jerez circuit in Spain for round nine of the 2014 series this weekend (5-7 September) with Michael van der Mark in a strong championship position.
With a 53-point lead over his nearest rival and a maximum of 75 points available from the remaining three races following the recent cancellation of the South African round scheduled for 19 October, the 21-year-old Dutch rider knows he is in control.
The World Supersport championship has not had a round since 6 July when van der Mark won at Portimao in Portugal but he and his Pata Honda team-mate Lorenzo Zanetti at least got the opportunity to race for Honda at the prestigious Suzuka 8 -hour race in Japan at the end of July.
For van der Mark it was a second successive victory in the prestigious endurance event with his MuSashi Harc-Pro Honda team-mates Takumi Takahashi and Pata Honda World Superbike rider Leon Haslam. Zanetti also took part at Suzuka alongside another Pata Honda rider Jonathan Rea.
Zanetti, 27, sits in fifth position overall in the World Supersport championship with a victory at Imola earlier this season to his credit. However, the Italian is determined to maximise his points haul in the remaining rounds to boost his championship standing.
Michael van der Mark - championship position: 1stTo be honest, this summer break has been a little bit too long but it was great to have the opportunity to return to Suzuka at the end of July and win the 8-hour race again with Leon (Haslam) and Takumi (Takahashi). I had a little holiday in the sun after that and I’ve been training hard to get ready for racing again. It will be a little strange to get back on the smaller CBR again after riding the Fireblade in Japan, but I am really looking forward to riding it again. I will approach this weekend in exactly the same way as normal, which is to try and win. I will have the championship in my mind as always though and just try to do the best that I can.
Lorenzo Zanetti - championship position: 5thThe Suzuka 8-hour was a great experience for me, even if the result was not so good for the team that Jonathan (Rea) and I were riding for. But I am looking forward to getting back to racing this weekend – it has been a strange season with long breaks between some races, but I know what I must do this weekend in Jerez. I have to fight for the podium to improve my championship position. One podium from the season is not enough – OK it was a win in Imola, but I need to finish these last three races in a good position to get into the top three of the championship.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinatorIt will be good to get back to racing at last and, with only two races remaining after this weekend, Michael is understandably keen to finish the job in Jerez. He is in a strong position, of course, but our approach will be exactly the same as earlier in the season when our job has simply been to prepare the CBR so that it can fight for the podium Sunday’s race and let Michael do the rest. I believe that Lorenzo can fight for the podium too and target for a top three finish in the championship.
1 Michael van der Mark 160 pts NED HONDA Pata Honda World Supersport Team2 Jules Cluzel 107 pts FRA MV MV Agusta RC3 Florian Marino 93 pts FRA KAWASAKI Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres4 Kenan Sofuoglu 83 pts TUR KAWASAKI MAHI Racing Team India5 Lorenzo Zanetti 80 pts ITA HONDA Pata Honda World Supersport Team6 Kev Coghlan 77 pts GBR YAMAHA DMC Panavto-Yamaha7 Patrick Jacobson 67 pts USA KAWASAKI Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres8 Raffaele De Rosa 67 pts ITA HONDA Core PTR Honda9 Roberto Rolfo 62 pts ITA KAWASAKI Team GO Eleven10 Roberto Tamburini 48 pts ITA KAWASAKI San Carlo Puccetti Racing