Honda will put its new Fireblade SP up against the WorldSBK competition for the first time in a week when testing resumes at Jerez and then at Portimao a couple of days later.
Leon Haslam and Alvaro Bautista have been riding the bike away from public scrutiny and both have been gagged by HRC. No talking to the media. At all. Rumours came from one of the Portimao outings that both had been on or under the lap record already. If it’s true then it might make for an interesting four days at the two tracks.
The firm’s second-string Moriwaki team has only confirmed one rider so far. Takumi Takahashi will ride but there is some speculation over budget concerns and he may begin the season on his own. Sandro Cortese was among the stars talked to by the team but nothing came of it.
And what now for the German multiple world champion? He has been in talks with almost everyone, it seems, and nothing has come to fruition. His last effort has been to contact Romano Albesiano to see if there is a test spot at Aprilia in 2020 if Andrea Iannone receives a hefty ban.
Cortese, a Moto3 and WorldSSP champ, has received many offers from teams but only if he rides for fuck all or actually takes sponsorship money. It’s a sad state of affairs when someone as good as that is paying to ride…
Two-time champion James Toseland believes there is not the strength in depth required in WorldSBK to make it interesting. The former Honda and Ducati rider says that when he was in the thick of it, he had to fight with Haga, Bayliss, Biaggi, Edwards and the like. And it was better then. Back even before all this was fields.
Biaggi, meanwhile, is bordering on becoming Aprilia’s MotoGP test rider after spinning laps on the RSV4-X Superbike at Sepang. The former champion stuck in 160 laps over three days on the bike which produces 225bhp and weighs 165kg. But it’s an 1100 so won’t be appearing at a race track near you.
“In terms of engine power it’s very similar to the factory machine that I drove in 2015,” he said. “You shouldn’t forget that the engine has a displacement of 1100cc. The electronics are very similar to the factory bike from 2015. The behaviour is also comparable, the handling is completely identical. So you drive a thoroughbred racing Superbike.”
Alex Lowes’ Kawasaki crew chief Marcel Duinker has put absolutely no pressure on his rider by saying he will fight for podiums from the first race.
It is believed that Kawasaki will produce a homolgation special ZX-10R to do something about the top speed of the Ducati Panigale V4R but not until 2021. Jonathan Rea has already tested wings at Portimao, although not many seemed to notice, and Duinker believes Kawasaki will not put up with a 20bhp deficit for much longer.