Round two of the 2017 World Superbike championship takes place this weekend at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand. Here, Red Bull Honda World Superbike team riders Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl give their take on the weekend to come.
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Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team en route to Buriram for round two
The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team has touched down in Thailand, where this weekend the second round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship takes place. Nicky Hayden returns to the Chang International Circuit with last year’s experience under his belt and the all-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 to challenge the unique 4.554Km track. For Stefan Bradl, this will be his first-ever racing experience at the venue located in Buriram, a city 400km north-east of Thailand’s capital city Bangkok, which made its WorldSBK debut in 2015 not long after its inauguration.
And it was Bangkok’s stunning EmQuartier Luxury District which today hosted a special event organised by A.P. Honda. Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl were on hand to unveil the all-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP in front of the Thai media, local Honda dealers and the many fans who attended the event. Nicky and Stefan were also involved in an interesting Q&A session, before posing for pictures and taking part in an autograph session.
Both riders will try to make the most of the free practice sessions to test the new settings and solutions developed by the team after Australia, in order to get closer to the front of the field and challenge for good results in the two races scheduled for the weekend at 16:00hrs local time (GMT+7) on Saturday and Sunday.
I’m happy to be in Thailand again and it’s great to see the enthusiasm for the new Fireblade and motorcycle racing in general! Last year it was my first time racing here and I really enjoyed it: it’s nice to be in a country with so many motorcycles and scooters everywhere. It’s a good track and one with a great crowd that’s hungry for motorcycle racing and the sport; it’s also clear that the level of the local riders is improving year after year. All of this makes for a great event, so obviously after a slow start to the season like the one we had in Phillip Island our goal is to be more competitive there, the track should suit the bike better so we’ll see what happens!
It was a nice surprise to see such great support from the fans at today’s event in Bangkok; it was packed full of fans and well organised! I’m looking forward to racing in Thailand as I have never been to Chang before so it’s a completely new track for me. I watched some videos to get an understanding of the circuit and I am usually a quick learner, so there shouldn’t be a problem! I hope we will be able to make a step forward in terms of performance compared to Australia and I’m pretty sure the layout of the track will suit the bike better. There’s plenty new to try on the bike so we will just have to wait and see how we’ll perform.
We’re looking forward to starting the second round of the season in Thailand. Phillip Island was not too kind to us, so we worked hard over the past week or so to be ready for the new challenge and we will have new parts available for this round, so we can’t wait to get started. We’re sure we will be more competitive at the Chang International Circuit: last year we did quite well there and I think that despite the differences between the two models, the track will suit the new Fireblade, too.