WSBK

Muggeridge drafted into Castrol Honda for season finale

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The Castrol Honda team is determined to finish the 2011 World Superbike championship season on a high at this weekend's final round (14-16 October) at Portimao in Portugal.
Karl Muggeridge will fill in for the injured Ruben Xaus
It has been a frustrating season for both riders and the team behind them, with Jonathan Rea missing three months after a mid-season crash and his team-mate, Ruben Xaus, also battling injuries.

The pair was re-united at Imola where Rea returned to the top step of the rostrum for the first time since April. Xaus, however, suffered a further crash at Magny-Cours in France two weeks ago, sustaining neck injuries, which have forced the 32-year-old Spaniard to sit out this weekend's finale.

Xaus will be replaced in the final round by Karl Muggeridge, who rode for the team in the World Supersport and Superbike championships. The 37-year-old Australian first rode for Castrol Honda team principal, Gerrit ten Kate, in 1999 and won the World Supersport title in 2004 before graduating to the World Superbike championship.

"Obviously, I'm sorry for Ruben because it's never good to miss out through injury, especially the last round of the season," Muggeridge said.

"However, I hope I can bring something positive to the team to help the guys finish the year on a good note. I've got no pre-conceived ideas on where I should be over the weekend, so we'll just take each session as it comes and try to make some steps forward in each one. I haven't ridden at Portimao since the first race here in 2008 and the CBR that I've been riding in the German championship is a quite different bike to the current Castrol Honda version. So it's a big task but one that I'm determined to make the most of.

Muggeridge rode a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade to the 2010 German Superbike title and finished third in this year's series.

Jonathan Rea has been in top form recently but suffered small mechanical failures which has frustrated him, but he is heading to a circuit he likes and sees more wins in the future.

"I really like the Portimao circuit. I made my World Superbike debut there in 2008 and just missed out on a podium, but I've had a lot of other good experiences there," Rea said.

"It's been an interesting month since I came back from injury and, of course, the win at Imola was amazing. But we're still working hard on the development of elements of the 2012 bike, so it's a slightly strange situation ‰ÛÒ racing and testing at the same time.

"Magny-Cours gave us some different set-up issues to Imola, which just showed that it's not an easy process, and Portimao is another circuit with its own characteristics. While the testing and development work will continue at Portimao, it would be nice to finish the season on a high, so we can go into the winter in a confident frame of mind.

Team manager, Ronald ten Kate, concluded saying, "So, we head into the last round of the season and it's definitely one that we want to do well in to finish the year on a high note. Over the last two months, we've been constantly working to improve the current CBR machines so we're looking forward to this opportunity to harvest something from all that effort. The speed that Jonathan has shown in the last two races has given us all confidence, so we'll give it everything we've got over this Portimao weekend. Our sympathies go out to Ruben, who is forced to miss this final round after his big crash in France. However, it will be good to welcome Karl back into the team and we're all looking forward to working with him again.

Main Photo: Jonathan Rea leading the pack at Magny-Cours

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