WorldSBK

Jonathan Rea wouldn’t be surprised if new Honda wins on WorldSBK debut

Jonathan Rea says the vastly increased level of input and resource from Honda could see the new CBR1000RR-R challenging for wins on its WorldSBK debut

Jonathan Rea says he expects the new Honda CBR1000RR-R to be ‘quick straight away’ when it makes its WorldSBK bow at the 2020 opener in Australia next month, adding he wouldn’t be surprised to see it winning straight away.

The five-time WorldBSK Champion joined his rivals in getting a first glimpse of the brand-new Honda Fireblade during testing at Jerez this week.

The new machine debuts as part of Honda’s reorganised WorldSBK effort, which in turns sees the Spanish-based HRC operation and new riders Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam come on board.

Billed as Honda’s most serious WorldSBK effort for almost two decades, though inclement weather conditions prevented much meaningful running to take place over the two days, Haslam in particular appeared up to speed relative to Ducati and Yamaha in Spain.

Indeed, Rea – who was blindsided by Ducati’s performance out of the box with its new Panigale V4 R twelve month ago – says expects Honda to be a threat at the front of the field from the opening round.

“I saw the Honda for the first time on Wednesday and took a look,” he told Speedweek.de. “Before, I had only seen them in pictures. But I didn't follow them in action on the racetrack.

“They [have] tested a lot, probably more than twice as many as everyone else. I expect Honda to be quick straight away. How soon we will see.

“It wouldn't be surprising if they won by a margin in Australia, but also not if they were fighting for the top five. I have no expectation of what they will do. They are serious opponents. Like everyone else, I don't know what to expect from them.”

Jonathan Rea welcomes renewed Honda rivalry

Despite a potentially bigger pool of rivals to take on in 2020, Rea says he welcomes the fresh challenge from Honda ahead of the new season.

Rea made his WorldSBK debut with Honda back in 2008 and collected 15 wins over the next six seasons but the effort – run through the Ten Kate Racing operation – never attracted the same level of resource this latest HRC effort is armed with.

Recognising the increased input from Honda Japan in Jerez alone – including Shinichi Kokubu, a Japanese HRC Director – Rea pleased to see the motorcycling giants going all in for 2020.

“There are a lot of Japanese paddock, so HRC seems to have a big plan and that's good for the series. I think it's good that Honda is seriously tackling the World Superbike Championship.”

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