New year, new bike, new rider. It’s going to be a 2020 full of changes and innovation for Honda, which has chosen to entrust the latest-spec CBR 1000 RR-R to Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam. There is certainly no lack of curiosity surrounding the Spanish rider, who after only one year at Ducati thought it might be a good idea to accept the proposal of the Japanese manufacturer.
Honda haven’t won the WSBK title since 2007 and Bautista will have a tough task against Rea who has dominated for the last five years. One positive aspect for the #19 however is that last year he had the time to study his rival.
“It is a special feeling to start this adventure with Honda - the Spaniard began - when HRC made me the proposal, I accepted because this manufacturer is a guarantee. We all know what the team can do and how much it has won in history. I'm not just talking about Superbike, even though they haven’t won the title for some years, but I mean all the other motor sport championships in which Honda is involved "
Alvaro, you are starting again from the January tests. On that occasion you struggled to keep the pace of your rivals. Are you worried about this?
“No, the test results don't match our potential. Also last year, with Ducati, I was far from the top. With Honda we are working step by step, aware that the CBR 1000 RR-R, as well as the squad and the team are new. The priority is to first find the right sensations on the bike, then once you have a solid base you can start pushing hard".
What are the strengths of the CBR 1000 RR-R?
“The bike has enormous potential, particularly with regards to the character of the engine. That represents a certainty, although there are some components to focus on. I spoke clearly with the team and if my requests will be completely satisfied, I am convinced that we can have our say".
What is the aspect that has given you the most problems?
"There isn't one in particular. Sometimes I think the bike is a little too rigid, therefore you have to try to make it more docile. As I said, this is a new adventure for me, seeing as I’m switching from a V4 engine to an inline one. Apart from that, I am aware that with the work of the team we can aim high".
The first test is at Phillip Island…
“Like all the other riders, I will go to Australia to fight for the podium and try to win. The tests on Monday and Tuesday will be fundamental to understand the level we are at".
You will be meeting up once again with Rea, a rider one who in the last five years has made only one error on the track, making fewer mistakes even than Marquez.
“Unfortunately, for me this is true. Johnny has the ability to manage every type of situation and be consistent, but inside me I am convinced that it is possible to beat him, since I already managed it last year. To do this, I mustn't make any mistakes. I'll try and make the most of last year's experience, because you not only have to be fast, but also make fewer mistakes".
Alvaro, one last comment: Honda has made history in the world of racing, is there a rider you admire or would like to take inspiration from?
"Sure! It's Doohan, I don’t think you need many words to describe how good he was."