HRC have struggled for pace during pre-season testing, but are confident that the new CBR1000RR-R will help them work their way back towards the front.
The 2024 Honda Fireblade features an array of updated components, starting with new aerodynamics and electronics packages. The Japanese engineers have worked tirelessly in recent months to provide the factory Superbike team with a series of new parts that should bring benefits across many areas, not least acceleration, deceleration, and braking.
Aesthetically, the CBR logo is flaunted in a brighter shade of blue, while a striking blue band adorns the belly pan. To reflect this change, the riders’ leathers incorporate a similar blue band running vertically from top to bottom.
New Team HRC manager José Manuel Escamez outlined the objectives for the upcoming racing season. This was followed by an unveiling of the new 2024 Fireblade that will be entrusted to Lecuona and Vierge.
Team HRC manager José Manuel Escamez
“The main challenge is to become competitive with the new bike as soon as possible. There are many updates across all areas of the machine, so we need to bring it all together and find a base setup that allows our riders to fully exploit the bike’s potential. The next challenge will be to consistently compete for top-five positions and secure some podium finishes. We are aware that this is a significant challenge, considering the high level of competition in the championship, but we are working tirelessly to achieve that goal.”
As they head into a third consecutive season with Team HRC, the two Spanish riders reiterated their goals for the upcoming championship, emphasising the need to exploit the new bike’s potential and obtain good grip and acceleration as well as consistency at different racetracks so as to build on last season’s performance.
“I’m really looking forward to this year. We always say that our goal is to win and HRC has made an enormous effort to bring us a great new bike. I too am working hard to prepare in order to start the season strong.
“We basically want to improve a little in every area. We can brake late but in the final part of the braking, we have difficulty stopping properly, so we’re working on that, and also on the drive. We’ve already seen we have more potential in that area with the new bike, and with the electronics too, so I’m excited to see what we can do if we are able to find a good base-setup.
“Let’s say that we didn’t always live up to our potential in 2023, as performance sometimes depended on the track, the conditions, and whether there was a good level of grip or not. Our potential was great at Indonesia, for example, but perhaps less so at some other tracks, so we want to work hard to achieve a better, more consistent level of performance at different circuits.
“We are a factory team, and our performance needs to reflect this. I think it’s important to focus on the present and work hard, test by test and race by race, so that we can be ready to fight for big things.”
“I’m very happy to be a factory rider with the same team for a third year and it means I’m motivated to work hard during the pre-season. I had a small surgery on my hand in early December so that I would have time to recover and then have the right energy and attitude to get back on the bike and work hard in January. I know my goal, I know my aims, and I know where I want to improve, so I’m trying to focus on those areas with the aim of being able to fight at the front in Australia and beyond.
“The two bikes are definitely different. We immediately started with an improved version last December, with different aerodynamics and different electronics. Small details really, but these make for a big step when put together. I feel the bike is more stable with this aerodynamics package, and we can more easily understand the behaviour of the bike. We need to adjust our line slightly, but we can use more power and brake a little later. Essentially, the overall feel is different thanks to this combination of new elements. Having said that, we still have a lot of work to do in order to put it all together and find the best compromise to be able to exploit the potential of the new parts.
“The goal is to fight for the podium. We reached the podium in our first year but not last year, which was more challenging. So our first goal is to develop the bike to a level that allows us to fight at the front and fight for the podium. We want to achieve more top three finishes, and then take it from there.”
Lecuona and Vierge will be back on track with the new-look CBR1000RR-R on 19-20 February, when they will take part in the very last pre-season test at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia before returning to the same track on 23-25 February for the opening round of the 2024 Superbike World Championship season.
Tickets for the 2024 season opener are on sale now, check out your options at www.worldsbk.com.au
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