Monday, June 14

HONDA RACING – WEC ROUND 4 POLAND PREVIEW

First of two back-to-back Eastern European GPs next for Honda- HM-Zanardo Team
Three weeks after their excellent and close fought victory at the Grand Prix of Italy, the Honda- HM-Zanardo Team have travelled east across Europe and to the city of Kwidzyn for the fourth round of eight in the FIM Enduro World Championship.
The Grand Prix of Poland will involve loose, loamy and sandy terrain and will provide a slightly different test for E2 riders Mika Ahola and Oscar Balletti on Honda CRF450R machinery.

Following his impressive win in Lovere, 35 year old Finn Ahola moved to the top of the E2 standings in what is becoming an intense and extremely tight title dispute with fellow former champion Ivan Cervantes. Ahola spent the weekend after success in Italy taking more spoils, this time in Arsie for the third round of the Italian Championship, which he also now controls. “I came to Arsiè to win and I have reached my objective,” he said at the time. “Now I’m the leader of the classification but we have to focus on next two GP of the World Championship: the GP of Poland and the GP of Slovakia.”

Kwidzyn – that first hosted a Grand Prix in 2008 - will begin with the routine Extreme test on Friday afternoon; an enduro-trial hybrid spectacle more for cameras and public consumption than for the satisfaction or challenge of the riders. The two day event will then involve 4 laps of the 55km course.

Ahola has kept busy since Arsie. His entertaining and enlightening internet blog reveals that he took part in a rally car face-off with another Enduro legend Juha Salminen and has been preparing for the conditions he is likely to find in northern Poland where he was surprisingly usurped in two occasions by Cervantes when both were competing in E1 in 2008.

“The next Enduro GP will be in Poland where the soil is sandy so I was training on couple of very bumpy tracks,” the three times world champion (all with Honda) writes. “Riding on the sand is something I don't usually practice because I've had enough of it in Finland back in the day... I actually scored my first ever podium in an Enduro GP back in 1994 in Finland and the race was sandy. Ivan Cervantes on the other hand is also very fast on the sand and he has similar training tracks at home like I have in Finland so I am looking forward to a tough race in Poland!”

Balletti, who was also successful in Arsie in the E1 category with the Honda CRF250R, will climb back on the 450 for the Grand Prix and will be hoping to rise from his 8th place in the standings with only 5 points separating him from climbing two more positions. Fabio Mossini will not be competing in the E1 class due to his back injury.

The team will remain in Eastern Europe during the week for the Grand Prix of Slovakia and round five on 19-20 June.