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Camier not convinced super-concessions will make the Honda a contender for SBK title

“In SBK it is difficult to make up ground quickly, but we are confident in our progress. Under the right conditions, we could win, but the super concessions won't make the difference."    

SBK: Camier not convinced super-concessions will make the Honda a contender for SBK title


With the outbreak of the pandemic, Honda's return to the Superbike World Championship has not proved to be the easiest, but the Japanese manufacturer is convinced that it has taken the right road to reach the top of the championship. This is precisely the objective set by the team run by Leon Camier, who on the eve of the new season looks with confidence at the progress made and the results to be achieved, in the shortest possible time.

“We have a year of experience under our belts and I think Lecuona and Vierge did a phenomenal job last season in adapting to the bike, the championship and the extra races. SBK is very different from what they were used to. Our project is to improve and we are doing it step by step - said the former rider on the sidelines of the team presentation Our goal is to win the championship, but we know that work is still in progress. Both of our riders did a good job, so our initial intention is to build on what we did last year. Last season 5 or 6 circuits were new to them, while now they can start preparing for the races directly from FP1 and this should help us arrive even more prepared than in 2022".

It took Yamaha 6 years to win the SBK title again and Ducati 11. What makes you so confident that you can do significantly better than last season?

“We have a very strong team, two young riders who we know can win the title and our bike is definitely improving. It won't be easy and it's not an easy championship to make progress in due to the very strict regulations, which make it difficult to make up ground quickly. At the same time, however, the goal is to reach the position as soon as possible which will allow us to fight for the title and I am confident that, sooner or later, we will succeed. Last year we achieved a pole and a third place and this year we aim to get onto the podium more often. Obviously we want to win, but we'll see how it goes. In these tests we have tried some new material from Japan and we believe we have made some progress, but we will still need a little time to extract the most from what we have. I hope that in these first two races we will be able to better understand where we are. In Japan they worked hard behind the scenes to give us a bike that can be competitive".

Will the suspension geometry changes granted by the super concessions be enough to fight with the frontrunners?

“The super concessions we have will help us improve, but I don't think they will be what will make the substantial difference that will allow us to win, because there are a number of factors that need to be perfected. As mentioned, we are still a bit green and we will need some more time to have the perfect package to fight for the title, but our goal is to take another step forward this year and keep improving the bike we have. At the right time and under the right conditions I think we can win, but I don't think the super concessions are what all of a sudden will make you a title contender, even if they will certainly allow us to improve.

What new parts did you work on?

“Compared to last year, we have made some changes to the character of the engine and we have worked on acceleration, as well as on the electronics, which can help us over the race distance. We still have to work on the fork, but we have some updates planned for the season. Nothing revolutionary, but it will help us continue in the right direction. Our goal is to further shorten the gaps and fight with the leaders and I believe that in the European races we will really understand what our level is".

Given your experience with the factory teams, how do you find working with HRC?

“We are 100% a factory team and we have a lot of Honda technicians. This certainly has positive sides, but at the same time there are also some aspects that slow us down a bit in the development. Normally, however, we know that when something new comes to us it has been checked methodically."

The Fireblade has proven to be a very good bike in the national championships in stock configuration. Do you think there should be less difference in the regulations, to facilitate the transition from the national championships to the World Championship?

“We know that the base of the new bike is very good, but the difficult thing is that the manufacturers who have been in this championship for a long time have years of homologation and improvements to the race package and know what they need with Pirelli tyres. For us, on the other hand, it's work in progress. We have to understand how to use the Pirellis to go fast and in these first two years that we have been back in the championship there have not been very big developments due to Covid. In other championships, where the regulations are more standard, teams that have been using the bike for a long time know what they need, while we are a young team, a manufacturer still young in the championship, and that's why we still need time to fight for the title. If we look at Honda's strategy and the risk it took with two young riders, with no experience in SBK, they are proof that with the right people we can still get good results right away. And as the bike and the team improve we can continue to make progress. I think the basis of our bike is really competitive. The engine is strong and we have good speed at almost all circuits, even if we can't obtain the times. We have to keep working and this is one of the aspects we need to improve on."

Do you think the arrival of Eric Granado in the Moriwaki team can help you with development?

“It will certainly be positive for us, especially when Pirelli brings new development tyres that we don't have time to test, but at the same time we have two riders who know the direction they want to go and what they need from the bike. Our primary objective is therefore to satisfy the requests of our riders. We know our strengths, weaknesses and where we have to work."

Will BMW be your main rival in 2023?

“It's hard to figure out where we are right now. We have several new elements that we tested in Jerez and on which we concentrated in Portimao, to understand how they work, but we will only understand our level after the first few races. BMW obtained homologation for the new bike, but they didn't seem particularly strong in testing. At the moment it is difficult to get a precise picture, but we are confident in our progress and we will see if it allows us to fight for the podium or the wins. In the tests, however, we seemed stronger and ahead of the BMW, but everything will be clearer in the first races".


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