Alberto Puig is certainly having a non-stop winter. In addition to being responsible for the MotoGP project, there is also the SBK one to look after. Honda has in fact returned to the production-derived racing series to try and replicate its past glories and the HRC team manager took the opportunity to be present at the Jerez tests, with the aim of closely following Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam on the latest evolution of the Fireblade.
He was accompanied by HRC director Tetsuhiro Kuwata, with whom he spent a few minutes in the Honda motorhome to exchange some information. The presence of Kuwata and Puig at the Jerez tests fully confirms what the ambitions of the Japanese manufacturer are, with Honda aiming to put an end to a Kawasaki domination that has lasted continuously for five years with Johnny Rea.
On the Spanish track the new CBR is up against its opponents for the first time, but there is also Stefan Bradl with the RC213V, the German carrying out some tests before Sepang.
Puig prefers to stay behind the scenes these days and no press conferences have been organized by the Honda team, which does not want to leak anything to the media, despite the fact that they are production-based bikes. Honda management will not speak until 21 February, the day chosen for the presentation of the team in Tokyo.
We did, however, manage to grab a few words with the team manager, in particular regarding the condition of Marc Marquez, who is struggling to recover following shoulder surgery at the end of November: “Marc will be at the Sepang test - Puig assured us exclusively – He is training to be in the best of shape".
It had in fact been Marc himself, a few weeks ago, who explained how the recovery was more complicated than expected and who had put his presence in doubt. Setting the alarm bells ringing.
The Honda SBK is on track, however, and Puig doesn’t want to miss any laps by his riders, with Haslam who set the benchmark on Wednesday: "I saw some photos from yesterday - he commented - I don't know any more. Let's see today."
The goal for HRC is to win this year, trying to replicate in some ways what Marc Marquez is doing in MotoGP. Puig preferred not to stick his neck out too far however and cut short with his answer: "I don't know, we’ll see what will happen".