The official launch of Honda’s factory backed effort in the 2020 World Superbike Championship took place on Friday in Tokyo.
Factory riders Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam unveiled the livery of the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP that will make its track debut next week, at the opening Superbike World Championship round at Phillip Island.
Taking to the stage to open the presentation were Managing Officer, Chief Officer, Motorcycle Operations of Honda Motor Co. Noriaki Abe, and President and Representative Director, Honda Racing Corporation Yoshishige Nomura.
They spoke about the Honda project with regard to the championship, the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP and the riders with whom Honda returns to the production-derived series with a full HRC factory team after an eighteen-year absence.
Managing Officer, Chief Officer, Motorcycle Operations of Honda Motor Co.
“Racing is an important ingredient of developing Honda products, so it’s not a coincidence that the decision to join again the WorldSBK Championship with a factory team coincides with the launch of the new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP. From the beginning this project was designed and developed together with the HRC riders and technicians, and the exchange of information led to the realization of a Super Sport motorcycle “ready to race”. We used many parameters from the MotoGP machine, bore and strokes are the same and by using RC213V technologies and relentless optimization of the engine’s fundamentals, combustion efficiency and friction reduction was achieved. I like to mention also the aerodynamic package – that including the winglets, benefits from lessons learned directly from the MotoGP machine. Although we know it will be a tough challenge, ultimately our factory HRC Team and satellite MIE Racing Althea Honda Team aim to achieve the best possible results. I am confident that our teams in just a few races can fight for the podium”.
It was then the turn of Bautista and Haslam, preceded by Team Manager Jaume Colom, and there was no hiding the riders’ enthusiasm at being part of such a united, determined group and a very exciting project, the pair well aware of the challenge that awaits Team HRC but more than ready to tackle it.
“I’m very pleased to be part of what is such an important project for Honda and HRC. I see all the work that is going into it and feel very positive energy from everyone at the company and on the team. It’s a very important year for me too. We know that we face a big challenge and that we have a lot of work to do; we’re a new group that is growing together to reach the top as soon as possible. Our goal is to be strong and fast with the Honda, a very competitive bike that can undoubtedly achieve great results. I hope to have fun and entertain all our fans this season.”
“It all feels so real now we’re here in Tokyo. We’re at the Honda HQ and the first races are just around the corner; it’s a dream come true. I am extremely excited and also a little nervous, because I really want to do well, and know we have the potential to do that. We’re ready to work hard and do our very best to achieve strong results. As for the first race, we’re at one of my favourite tracks, Phillip Island, where I’ve been successful in the past. We’ll have to see with regards to the competition of course, but I admit I’m really looking forward to the opening round.”
During the same event, the satellite MIE Racing Althea Honda Team was also presented, with factory HRC rider Takumi Takahashi joining Team Principal Midori Moriwaki on stage.
“The 2020 racing season is going to be a very special one and I’m very proud to see the MIE Racing name on the world stage, supported by Honda and HRC. I am very grateful for this precious backing. Thanks to the strong relationship with Honda and Althea Racing, we started our WorldSBK work last year and now, with the new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP, such a special bike, we renew our commitment, on track with HRC rider Takumi Takahashi. I’m also delighted to announce here, in the special setting of Honda Welcome Plaza Aoyama, that we have signed Jordi Torres, who completes our 2020 line-up. Jordi will join the MIE racing Althea Honda Team as of the third round (Jerez). We know we are in for a demanding season, as everything is new and we are up against some very strong rivals, but we also have the experience and knowledge gained during the 2019 season, which will be of real value.”
“I’m very happy to be racing in the WorldSBK championship this year. To race at world level was always my dream since day one. It’s now become true and I wish to thank HRC, Honda and MIE Racing for this great opportunity. It’s the first time I will work with an international squad, but communication has been good and I immediately realised that we share the same goals. We know it will be hard work and a challenging season, but I’m really motivated to see where we can end up. I’ll do my best to reach the best possible level”.
“I’m thrilled to have the chance to race in the WorldSBK championship with Honda and the MIE Racing Althea Honda Team. I’m prepared to work closely with the team, bringing my own experience but also learning from them. I’m sure that by combining our efforts, we will be able to continuously improve our performance and our results over the season. I am looking forward to riding the new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP and will do my best for the team, Honda and all our fans”.
On concluding the presentation, the team now flies to Australia, set to participate in a final two-day test session early next week before then taking to the track for the opening round of WorldSBK 2020.
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