Honda is not having an easy time of things, either in MotoGP or in Superbike, where the Tokyo-based manufacturer has only managed to score one Top 10 finish in the last six races of the championship. Despite the help of super concessions, Honda are still a long way from victory and the top positions they aspire to, as evidenced by the fact that the HRC team managed just one podium finish in the first seven rounds of the year. The fourth season since the return of the Japanese company to World SBK, in official form.
What has prevented Honda from making progress and achieving the desired results? HRC team manager Leon Camier tried to give an answer to this age-old question, explaining to our Motorsport-Total.com colleagues how part of the responsibility is to be attributed to the current regulations in WorldSBK, which are more favourable to the dominance of Ducati than the attempts of the other manufacturers to catch up. To allow the Borgo Panigale manufacturer to bring to the track the new Panigale V4 2023, whose base price for the public is set at 43,990 euros, it was in fact decided to raise the "price cap", i.e., the maximum price, above 44,000 euros. which a production model can have to be admitted to the World Championship.
“In this championship you don’t have the freedom that you have in MotoGP, our basis here is series machines and Ducati is building a production racing bike for 44,000 euros. Of course, it’s good for them because it allows them to be competitive, but a motorcycle for 44,000 euros competes against others that cost just over 20,000 euros. Up to what point is that still correct? What sense does it make for a manufacturer that builds an affordable bike for the road and thus competes in a championship with strict rules and is not competitive? Dorna has recognized the problem, but it is not easy to strike a balance. It's a difficult situation. How are you supposed to do that? It's really a tough question," Camier said.
Ducati's supremacy is made even clearer by the level of competitiveness achieved by the Bautista-Panigale duo, which has allowed the Bolognese manufacturer to take 17 victories out of the 21 races held so far in 2023. "The Ducati is really strong, but Alvaro makes the difference. He's a really good rider. You shouldn't deny him anything. Many factors come together. Sure, they have an advantage. He's also performing very well."
The weight of Alvaro, who is much lighter than his opponents, was at the centre of the controversy at the beginning of the year, leading several riders, including Redding above all, to ask for the introduction of a combined bike/rider weight limit, to stem Bautista’s advantage.
"Of course, it makes a difference. If you don't see it that way, you don't understand motorcycling. Light riders will never admit it. They think that being a big rider has other advantages. But what are the advantages? You can't see anything on the data. However, you can see less weight in the data" commented Leon, who would have been in favour of the idea, later shelved, of introducing the combined weight: "There's a combined weight in almost every class: in the Supersport 300 World Championship, in the Supersport World Championship, in Moto3 and in Moto2. Why not apply this to large motorcycles? What's the difference?” concluded the HRC team manager, who admitted that Honda might consider abandoning the championship again, if the desired results do not begin to arrive. "I don't know how they see things in Japan, but of course there is that risk".