Honda team technical manager Pieter Breddels has given a positive report on the progress made by new rider Nicky Hayden and his team-mate Michael van der Mark at its first winter test at Aragon
The new-look World Superbike Honda squad began its winter testing schedule in a two-day event alongside the factory Kawasaki, Ducati and Yamaha squads and despite weather conditions reducing the amount of running time, both riders notched up over 80 laps each with Hayden getting to grips with an all-new machine while van der Mark got to business with new parts on the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP.
“Overall we're quite pleased with this first test of the winter season,” Breddels said. “Of course, there are still things to be improved but we managed to go through a lot of different settings and items with both riders. Now we have a week break before Jerez, where we hopefully continue to improve like we did here.”
The Honda technical manager has explained the former MotoGP world champion has got to grips with fundamental things with the production bike ahead of his rookie WSBK campaign, focusing on changes on the bike to suit the Americans riding style.
“Nicky got to grips with the bike quite quickly,” he said. “The main focus on day 1 was to change the rear brake because of his unique riding style but already on the second day things were going much better, especially at the front. He then tried the second bike, which had different front geometries and he made another step forward.”
Van der Mark's major role in the test was to discover a solution to the problems which hamstrung his 2015 season, with the Honda frequently being well out-qualified by its rivals and not being able to match the pace at the front with a full fuel tank in the opening laps of races.
“With Michael we concentrated on solving the problems we've encountered in 2015 regarding qualifying and pace in the early laps,” he added. “He was also able to try new brake pads and a different spec engine that gave him a better feeling. This is a good sign ahead of a bigger engine upgrade that will be available in January.”
The Honda WSBK squad will now digest the data collected at the Aragon test and will head to Jerez for a final winter test in 2015 before the testing ban over December and mid-January.