Honda could field as many as five Fireblades on the WorldSBK grid next season in three different teams.
It is believed that a factory HRC team, a Moriwaki team and an Althea team all running the new-for-2020 Fireblade are being discussed ahead of announcements at the Tokyo show, where the bike will be unveiled.
Although he denied signing a contract with Honda, Alvaro Bautista appears to be nailed on for one of the HRC rides along with Suzuka Eight-Hours star Takumi Takahashi.
Ryuichi Kiyonari is under contract to HRC, so will probably remain with the Moriwaki team, which leaves a seat next to him and one in Genesio Bevilacqua’s mob, currently occupied by the wayward Alessandro ‘Matt’ Delbianco. It is believed that Leon Camier has been told he is surplus to requirements next year.
Unlike the last ‘new’ Fireblade, which was a parts-bin special, the 2020 bike is a ground-up spanker but won’t be a V4, as many would like. Honda have a V4 which could be used but it would make the bike very expensive and not cost-effective.
The new inline-four engine is, apparently, very necessary faster which should at least bring it into line with the ZX-10RR if not the V4R.