Honda’s new course in World Superbike got underway with both positive and negative aspects in the first round at Phillip Island, and the forced stop due to the coronavirus is giving the Japanese manufacturer’s technicians a lot of time to analyse the way things went. The first people who want to understand what went in the right direction and what obviously did not, are the riders, starting with Alvaro Bautista, who is eager to return soon to fight for the win.
“It was a difficult weekend - explained Alvaro - but at the same time a very positive one. We knew, before we got there, that it would be tough, because our team is new, the bike is completely new, and we have to develop it as best we can. We need time and we didn’t have much of that before the first race, but we made the most of the Australian weekend to find solutions that will help us to improve our confidence with the bike and, despite a complicated weekend, we were able to show the potential that we have.”
Despite the forced break, work in Japan continues, and Alvaro tries to keep up.
“Yes, we keep in touch with the factory. After Australia we have been exchanging impressions, trying to go into more detail and clearly the work continues, even if it’s not at the track. During a race weekend we exchange just the biggest, most immediate comments and maybe you forget some small details that can nevertheless be very important. “
Obviously, all this takes second place when compared with the Covid-19 emergency, which Bautista also underlines.
“It's a strange situation, one in which it’s time to think more about others than about ourselves. It's a time for solidarity. Right now, I would say that I can do about half the training I usually do. Luckily, I have a small gym at home, but I can’t train at a more technical level, meaning riding, motocross, supermotard or flat track. Mentally, I try to use the time at home in a positive way, to be with my little girl. Let’s hope that the situation will improve as soon as possible, the most important thing now is human life and therefore: stay at home! Hopefully, the races will restart soon, proving that the situation is back to normal.”
Haslam: "Australia was frustrating, but we can learn from this and grow”
For his part Leon Haslam also underlines the importance of prevention, and tells us how he is living through this particular moment.
“I have many friends in Europe, and things are now getting more serious in the UK too. For me, it’s more the uncertainty regarding what’s going to happen day by day. All we can do is listen to the professionals and do what we can to stay safe.”
Training also remains paramount for Leon so as to keep in the best possible physical shape.
“I have a good trainer who I see every day. Normally, I would ride 3 or 4 times a week, but now I’m just sticking to a standard training programme, always working to improve the fitness, and try to keep as healthy as possible.”
In conclusion, the British rider gave us his thoughts on the Phillip Island round, which also had good and bad aspects for him.
“Australia was frustrating for me, as our potential was quite good in race 1. We were fighting for the podium with a few laps to go, despite a few small issues. Sunday was something of a disaster, as the potential was there in terms of lap times, but we crashed on lap 1 of the sprint race and then suffered another crash in the final race of the day. The positives were the lap times and where we could have been fighting, while the negative was the issues that we had in race 1. But we can learn from this and work to rectify those problems whenever we race next.”