Honda admits CBR1000RR-R WorldSBK debut left ‘bittersweet aftertaste’

Team HRC team manager says the Honda CBR1000RR-R's WorldSBK debut showed potential but admits it is still short on development to challenge leaders

Leon Haslam - Team HRC Honda CBR1000RR-R

Team HRC Honda team manager Jaume Colom says the team came away from the opening round of the 2020 WorldSBK Championship with a ‘bittersweet aftertaste’ after showing encouraging pace but still coming up short on its main rivals.

The new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade made its much-anticipated debut at Phillip Island in February amid a major overhaul of the manufacturer’s WorldSBK set-up with its MotoGP-dominating Team HRC brought in to run its efforts.

Compared with previous seasons it was a strong start for the new bike on paper with Leon Haslam’s fifth place marking Honda’s best result in almost two years.

However, despite its competitive showing, Colom admits there is still some development to be done on the chassis to harness its vastly improved power and top speed figures.

“One advantage for us was having two very experienced riders. It is something that also helps a lot to get the bike ready. We went to Australia not knowing what level we would be at, we couldn’t get much done in the preseason tests due to poor weather conditions. 

“We would have liked to train some more and get to Australia with a better developed bike. That wasn’t the case, and we left Phillip Island with a bittersweet aftertaste…

“On the one hand, we saw that we were relatively close to the top riders. Leon and Álvaro’s times proved that. But due to one thing or another, the race results left us wanting more… The positive thing is that we saw that we have a lot potential. 

“The bike’s top speed and power are very good, but other things need to be adjusted: chassis, suspensions. From what we could see in Australia, we are not far from the other bikes, so when we can continue working and developing the bike, our intention is to get to the top as quickly as possible.”

With WorldSBK on pause right now amid the coronavirus crisis, Colom admits the enforced break has come at a particularly frustrating time for the team to maintain the momentum of the CBR1000RR-R’s development.

“From a sporting side, the current circumstances affect us a lot, because what we need are hours of training and being on the track. Work has continued in Japan, but with the bike and its development, we cannot do anything. 

“As I say, in HRC the activity has continued, but working in the office is not the same as working on the track. All the data we got from Australia has been analysed – what would help us now is to keep on riding the bike.”