From tomorrow at the Circuit of Barcelona the Superbike tests will be held and we at GPOne will be present on the ground in Catalunya to report minute by minute on the most interesting topics of this crazy 2020 season that is gearing up to start again more than four months from the opening round at Phillip Island.
One of the biggest unknown factors and among the bikes that have aroused and, surely, will arouse more interest there, is the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade. The HRC team was absent from the Misano tests last week and will therefore make its "second debut" on the track after the one at the end of January in Jerez.
The curiosity to see the true potential of this bike is so great and the two HRC riders Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam will have to resume work from where they left off, i.e. with 6th and 12th place at Phillip Island in Race 2. Despite the lockdown, development work has been continuing in Japan, in full compliance with local regulations and those of the SBK championship, and during this two-day test we might see some new features on the Fireblade.
What will be new for this category however will be the track as the SBK Championship will stop in Barcelona for the first time. It will be interesting to see the behaviour of the bikes and riders on a "new" track (in reality Kawasaki had already tested there in early February, skipping the Portimao tests) and compare, if possible, the times and performance of the production-based bikes with those of MotoGP.
A lot is expected of Alvaro Bautista, who knows the track well because of his past in the MotoGP championship and the fact that he has also won twice there. Alvaro has shown that he can offer a good performance in the race on the new bike and to demonstrate this he finished the inaugural weekend of the season in Australia with two sixth places.
“I felt happy that the championship would restart,” said Alvaro in a Q&A issued by HRC. “It means the situation is improving and everything is step by step returning to normal. Having less races is a disadvantage for us in terms of bike development of course. We need more time on track to reach maximum performance. On the other hand, I like and know the tracks where we will race very well, and they are also very close to my home. So I’m looking forward to it! I haven’t touched a bike for 3 months. I don’t remember ever having gone that long without riding…”
What do you expect from these tests at Barcelona?
“Our initial target is to regain feeling with the bike. Then, if we have time, begin to prepare for the Catalunya round, because we have never raced there. And we might have some items that HRC has prepared following our feedback after the last outing, but I’m not sure we can test these at Barcelona, maybe we have to wait for the next time. It will be a good challenge, but fortunately I know the track very well and have good references so I hope I can quickly regain the feeling! Basically, I’ll use the first test to refamiliarize myself with the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP.”