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Honda powers past Ducati to become new WorldSBK speed kings

The Honda CBR1000RR-R is now the fastest motorcycle in a straight line as it powers past Ducati through the speed traps at Phillip Island

Alvaro Bautista - Honda CBR1000RR-R

When the Ducati Panigale V4 R powered out of the box at the opening round of the 2019 season at Phillip Island, the only thing more impressive than its striking appearance was its rapid speeds in a straight line.

As feared, the new V4 configuration of the Ducati superbike was remarkably fast in a straight line as it put handfuls of kilometres per hour between itself and the likes of Kawasaki and Yamaha at full throttle.

By contrast, Honda with the now retired CBR1000RR consistently found itself at the bottom of the speed traps in 2019, so much so that when Ducati had its rev limits adjusted down, Honda’s were revised up to give it a better chance.

However, the launch of the new Honda CBR1000RR-R – with a purported 210-214hp on tap – appears to have readdressed the balance right back into the Japanese firm’s favour, with both Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam consistently topping the speed traps during two days of WorldSBK testing at Phillip Island.

Bautista hit 322km/h during Tuesday’s morning session, while the Spaniard was easily fastest again with a 317.6km/h in the afternoon despite only clocking the 17th fastest lap time.

Indeed, while the ex-MotoGP rider is proving to be a rocket ship in a straight line right now, it isn’t translating into lap times for him as he struggles to find his comfort zone on the CBR1000RR-R. For now, he is complaining it is too stiff into corners and doesn’t respond to his front-end heavy style of riding.

By contrast, Leon Haslam – while slower on the straights – has shown consistent top five pace in pre-season testing, seemingly returning to some form having spent a season struggling with the braking system on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR.

What will be interesting to note is whether the FIM considers looking at the Honda’s rev limits a few rounds into the season. Ducati saw its revvy engine pegged back in the wake of a stunning start to the season by Bautista, reducing its large advantage in terms of top speed even if it still remained generally the quickest bike on the straights.

Though it might take regular wins for Honda’s rev limits – 15,600rpm – to justify the FIM reigning it in, Ducati may argue the CBR1000RR-R is simply too strong down the straights and deserves the same restrictions levelled on it during the 2019 season. As a reference, the other inline four machines from Kawasaki and Yamaha have rev limits at 14,600rpm and 14,900rpm respectively.

2020 Australian WorldSBK - Phillip Island SCHEDULE

2020 WorldSBK - Round 1 - Phillip Island, Australia
Weekend Schedule
FRIDAYSessionAUS timeUK time 
WorldSBKFP110:30 - 11:2023:30 - 00:20* Thur PM UK
WorldSSPFP111:30 - 12:1500:30 - 01:15 
WorldSBKFP215:00 - 15:5004:00 - 04:50 
WorldSSPFP216:00 - 16:4505:00 - 05:45 
SATURDAY
WorldSBKFP310:00 - 10:2023:00 - 23:20* Fri PM UK
WorldSSPFP310:35 - 10:5523:35 - 23:55* Fri PM UK
WorldSBKSuperpole12:15 - 12:4001:15 - 01:40 
WorldSSPSuperpole12:55 - 13:2001:55 - 02:20 
WorldSBKRACE 115:0004:00 
SUNDAY
WorldSBKWarm-up09:30 - 09:4522:30 - 23:45* Sat PM UK
WorldSSPWarm-up09:55 - 10:1022:55 - 23:10* Sat PM UK
WorldSBKSPole RACE12:0001:00 
WorldSSPRACE13:1502:15 
WorldSBKRACE 215:0004:00