It's one of the novelties of this season. We're obviously talking about Honda, which has decided to relaunch its ambition in the Superbike World Championship. The Japanese company has, in fact, chosen to return to the derivatives in grand style in an official guise, showing off the latest evolution of the CBR 1000 RR-R for the occasion.
As if that weren't enough, the choice was made to focus on a rider of the caliber of Alvaro Bautista who, a year ago, had inaugurated the World Championship with eleven consecutive successes, to the point that he seemed unbeatable. In short, the intentions were the best but, apparently, that spark between Alvaro and the CBR did not ignite like it did with the Panigale V4.
We have to say that, in this relationship, there was a good deal of luck. Yes, because Alvaro needed to stack up the greatest number of kilometers with the new bike, but there were definitely some unscheduled events, starting from the two days in Jerez in January, when the weather ruined his plans under the rain.
A script that, in some ways, had been similar in Australia, where the rain changed his plans, and those of the team, right before the start of the World Championship. Regarding the situation, Bautista was very clear at the end of his two sixth places between Race 1 and Race 2: "We're currently at 30% of development". His words can be seen from two points-of-view: on the one hand, as a kind of encouragement, aimed at indicating that the best is yet to come, given the large margin of growth and, on the other, as the fact that the path to travel is both still long and uphill.
While he adapts to the CBR, the aspect that was the most difficult for Bau Bau was undoubtedly the character of the in-line four-cylinder. If up until a year ago Bautista exalted the four-cylinder V with its sweet, flowing style, now he finds himself having to go back to school and change, focusing on aggression, a key aspect that the CBR engine requires.
There's definitely enough work, too bad it's not possible to put it into practice. After skipping the Qatar round, a stage that would have helped the HRC and the Spanish rider shed light on the difficulties, the feeling is that, at best, everything will still be at a standstill until June, waiting confidently for Misano.
Four months without tests and races, therefore, having to stay at that 30% of the development declared by #19 in Phillip Island. This is a blow to all intents and purposes, also because, when they return to the track, it'll then be necessary to "race" in all senses, since a shortened calendar with very few breaks is probably a sure thing.
This is not exactly what Bautista and Honda would have imagined after coming together in September.