Before taking to the track for the first official test of the year at the Spanish circuit of Montmeló, riders Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam have unveiled the CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE machines with which they will compete in the 2021 Superbike World Championship, during what is their second consecutive season with factory Team HRC.
The virtual presentation of Team HRC, which was broadcast on HRC social media channels, was filmed in the team garage, the squad openings its doors to the many Honda fans around the world and giving them the chance to get an early glimpse of the wonderful 2021 CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE livery. Viewers were also able to hear the comments and expectations of key team members as they prepare for the production-derived world championship.
In a message from Japan, HRC Director – General Manager Race Operations Management Division Tetsuhiro Kuwata underlined just how important racing is to Honda. The manufacturer continuously strives to push the boundaries every further, improving its bikes by engaging in international racing, a concept that is even truer for the CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE, a bike designed to compete and perform on track. Mr. Kuwata spoke about the development work completed over the winter with regard to both the bike and the organisation of the team. He then passed over to new team manager Leon Camier.
The move from rider to team manager signifies a big change for the Brit, who is keen to contribute to the success of a project on which the HRC engineers continue to work tirelessly, despite the additional challenges posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Both riders are pleased to have Camier on board, the former rider having shared a similar SBK career path to Leon Haslam. After a winter of intense training across every possible discipline, from minibikes to endurance, Haslam is ready to get back on his CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE, convinced that he can fight at the front after an important year of experience and growth.
A feeling shared by team-mate Alvaro Bautista, who spent the winter training both physically and mentally in order to be in the best possible shape when the championship opens. His initial impressions of the improvements made by the engineers over the winter are positive, his feeling is good, and the goal is now to put it all together and try to fight for victory.
“We’ve had a prolonged off-season of course, and that’s been a little strange, but I’ve done a lot of physical training and was also very busy at home because I became a father for the second time. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to the racing now, and I’m pleased with the bike. There are no big changes but a series of small evolutions that should give us a better base setup. We’ve worked across many areas, particularly the electronics, and have focused on finding better rear grip. We’ll now use the upcoming tests to put everything together and try to have a better-balanced bike. It was hard to take any big steps last year due to the pandemic, but we were still able to score some strong results and podiums. We now have a year of experience behind us, and so if this season is more ‘normal’, I think we can fight for better results and hopefully race wins. I cannot wait to get started.”