One day after the all-conquering KRT squad had their global launch just ahead of the final test of the pre-season at Phillip Island, the official Honda effort unveiled its factory machines near the venue for the first round of the new-look WorldSBK championship.
Joining the 2019 rider line up of Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari were Honda and HRC top brass, confirming that the overall CBR1000RRSP2 effort in 2019 will be an officially-sanctioned one, with direct factory support and development as an integral part of the package.
Honda is back, HRC is back, no doubts now. But without any Red Bull assistance.
The colour-bomb of a 2019 WorldSBK Honda Fireblade was unveiled in its predominantly red white and blue colours, with Moriwaki’s traditional blue and yellow also unmissable in its intensity along its midriff.
Looking chiselled from solid billet, from the outsize disc rotors to the footrest hangers, the bike itself has already been out on track, with Camier and Kiyonari, at the Thai circuit of Buriram.
Now it will join its rivals on track for the first time on Monday 18th of February on the first of two days of testing at PI, the venue for the opening round, to be held between 22-24 February.
Leon Camier, on whom lots of Honda’s immediate hopes rest, said, “I think for me the whole project is really exciting. Having the support of HRC and Honda and the experience of Althea and Moriwaki – it is going to be a really interesting project.
“There is a lot to learn from the bike for sure. But at the same time I have quite a lot of experience in this championship now and I hope to be able to keep steering in the right direction. I think we can come good quite quickly, hopefully. We have had a couple of tests that have gone well and for sure it will be interesting to be on track with some of the others to see where we are stronger and where we are struggling. It is always better on track to see that than sort of going from your feelings.
“All in all I think we are sort of ready to start and it would be good to have these extra two days to compare everything on track, but I think we are as ready as we can be to start. You always want to win but I think we have to be a bit realistic with expectations, in the beginning, especially because the team is new for a start, a new project and the bike has been developed in another championship, so it needs time to come together.
“But with the expertise of everyone in this team there is no reason why it can’t, so fingers crossed it will be sooner rather than later. I think there is no reason we cannot be strong, hopefully the middle of the championship and towards the end for sure.”
Kiyonari, the winner of the final round of the Japanese championship in 2018 on a Pirelli-shod Moriwaki Honda, said of his 2019 chances, “Always I want to win – championships and each race – but I know that especially this championship is very, very difficult. But I have a good bike, a good team, and if I can ride well and show good speed I think we can finish in strong positions.”