The first round of the 2012 World Superbike championship at Phillip Island in Australia is set to get underway this weekend (February 25th and 26th) and team Honda have revealed their riders are more than up for the challenge that lies ahead.

Jonathan Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama will be representing the world-famous bike-maker in 2012, with both keen to get the new season underway.

Each rider will be using the manufacturer's 2012 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade for the duration of the season – with the model celebrating its 20th birthday this year – and as a result, they have completed hours of testing on the 4.448 km Phillip Island circuit in the run-up to race weekend, which will be the first of 14 rounds taking place at venues around the world.

Pieter Breddels, the team's technical co-ordinator, commented: "We've made some steady progress during this test and Jonathan is right there on the pace.

"It's difficult to make big steps forward with him but, saying that, he's up there with the fast guys and we believe he'll be in a position to fight for the podium in the opening races this weekend."

He added that his teammate is slightly more of an unknown quantity in the first race of the season as he only recently joined the team, but improvements are being made in his setup and he too should be competitive come the race weekend.

Earlier this month, the brand completed its tyre tests at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia ahead of its entry into the FIM Endurance World Championship.

Honda's TT Legends team covered almost 2,000 km in 350 laps of the race track last week, with the riders trying various compounds, fuel loads and setups to determine the optimal race systems for the coming season, which gets underway on April 14th at the Bol d'Or 24-hour race in France.

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Posted by Paul Durcan

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