Yesterday saw the unveiling of the two Honda CBR1000 RR-R Fireblades of the HRC Superbike team, which will be lined up on the track in 2021 by the Japanese team. The protagonists of the online event "2021 Honda Global Motorsport Announcement", were Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam, both confirmed for the second year in the same garage. The two riders will continue the project that was born and which they married in 2019; while last year the goal was to get to know and develop the bike, this year it will be to win together with the Japanese manufacturer.
“2020 was a strange year for everyone, with minimal races and then, in our case, a new team and bike. I feel we made some really good progress, and I’m very excited as we move forward and prepare for the 2021 season. We have a great testing programme and I have a lot of faith in both the new Fireblade and our team. Hopefully we can reach the top step of the podium and challenge for the title this coming season. And for all the fans watching, I hope to see you all at a circuit soon. We’ll keep fighting as hard as we can and try to reach that top step for you guys.”
What do you think of the season that has just ended? You were very close to the podium and very often fought for the top positions. What are your expectations for the second year you will spend with Honda in 2021?
"From my point of view it is obviously a fantastic opportunity to continue with Honda. Obviously it was a strange situation due to the pandemic and we needed more tests. It was a short season, full of ups and downs and we had to understand the direction to go. Short season, new team, new bike. We want to do better even if we have nothing new for next year, we will have to take steps forward to improve in the areas we need. "
You have a lot of experience in Superbike. What can you tell us about the electronics of these bikes and the difference in the various brands?
“I think it's really different. From my point of view, the electronics on the Honda are really good, the bikes are really competitive. In my opinion the Honda is excellent and will be able to show all its competitiveness. I think the second year with them will allow me to take a big step forward and I think we will have more time to be able to take this leap together. "
Haslam: "The Honda CBR 1000 RR-R road bike is fantastic, very fast"
Have you had the opportunity to test the standard Honda CBR RR-R on the street or on the track?
"Yes, I had the opportunity to ride the new bike in Aragon at the start of the season and honestly, the lap time I did was incredible. The standard road bike is very fast, I think I lapped in 1’59.00, the level of performance is fantastic. The balance of the chassis is really different from the previous bike, it is much more stable and more with the technology of now, with Traction Control, I never have to push too hard to get the best out of the bike. As for me, I did a lot of laps with my friends too and it's very easy to ride, it's weird if you think it's similar to the bike you push to the limit in the race and you can just go and do the shopping with it. I had some really positive feelings. "
Last year you finished the championship with the same total number of points as Alvaro, 113, do you think it would not have been possible to do more?
"From my point of view, this year was fundamental to understand the bike and improve some small problems, I wasn't very focused on the final result, plus this year we had a much lower number of races. I certainly believe that by having more tests we could have fewer problems and fewer crashes. So we will try to push harder next season. "
Do you think that in 2021 you will be able to fight at the same level as your rivals: Ducati, Kawasaki and Yamaha?
“As far as I'm concerned it's the same. Obviously the main goal is to win. I think that the second year with the same bike, the same people, the same team, will be ideal for taking this step forward. In this strange season I reached the top five several times, next year we will try to reach the next goal. "
Haslam: "Kawasaki has all the data, the opposite of our situation in Honda"
Leon considering you started in 2003, do you think Superbike is more complicated now or when you were fighting, for example, with Troy Bayliss and Biaggi?
“I have been in Superbike for a lot of years and I am really happy to have spent years competing with legends like Bayliss, Biaggi. By now I think I have scored podiums with six different manufacturers. However, now it is difficult because all the factories like Ducati, Kawasaki, Yamaha are at the highest level I've ever seen, both for the competition and for the motorcycles. Over the years you have expectations of where you might be, and this period is probably the most exciting because I know I can win. Being involved in this project is important to me. "
You know the Kawasaki very well, the team and the people. Considering the new Ninja, are you worried about the lap times they've done on the track?
“I honestly think that having been with Kawasaki for many years has made me understand why they are so competitive. They have a really solid team and the riders too. They have all the data, this is just the opposite of what we have now with Honda. I think that with the new Kawasaki they will be able to achieve the same goals as in the past. For me it is neither positive nor negative. "