While preparing for his rookie World Superbike campaign Stefan Bradl says the differences to MotoGP have narrowed since the introduction of the standard ECU in Grand Prix racing.
The 2011 Moto2 champion has spent the past five years in MotoGP but returns to the Honda fold this season with a switch to World Superbikes with Red Bull Honda alongside fellow ex-MotoGP rival Nicky Hayden.
Since stepping away from the factory Aprilia MotoGP squad Bradl had been quickly adapting to the Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR before he and the Red Bull Honda squad got its first outing with the new SP2 model last month in Jerez and Portimao.
Despite initial teething problems focused around smoothing out the electronics to maximise with new Fireblade's potential, the German rider says his period of adapting came as a pleasant surprise.
“The differences between World Superbikes and MotoGP are not that big,” Bradl said. “The tyres play a part and the movement is a little more but not as much as I expected.
“The weight and the handling of the bike is very easy to ride but you have to ride differently with the inline four cylinder, while the Aprilia and Honda MotoGP used V4s, you can feel that a little bit but it only took one day to adapt to the tyres, gearbox and engine.
“The difference in the first, second and third gears between the two is not so different but you notice it in the fourth, fifth and sixth gears.”
After a year with the standard ECU in MotoGP to contend with, Bradl has also drawn comparisons to the electronics in World Superbikes and is impressed with the specification despite initial issues.
“I was surprised by the electronics but that is maybe because of the standard ECU in MotoGP which I didn't like, I preferred the Honda electronics from 2014, which was at a very high level,” he said. “The electronics we are using in World Superbikes are very similar to the standard ECU in MotoGP so the difference is very, very small. The standard electronics you can buy from the shop is already at a high standard on the Fireblade.”
READ: Team bosses: Single ECU was 'good move' for MotoGP
Bradl's riding style alterations have mostly been forced by the change in tyres, having used Michelin in MotoGP while he is getting to grips with Pirelli in World Superbikes, but the 27-year-old is confident gains will come from mileage and experience.
“The tyres behave differently, so for example the front tyre you have to stop the bike a bit more on the straight and the front feels softer,” he said. “You can brake into the corner deep but not as hard. The rear tyre is quite similar, it moves more, so you have to find a way not to stress the tyre too much. I have had to change my riding style when exiting corners to pick up the bike but the difference is not very big.”
Speaking at the Red Bull Honda launch,
Bradl confirmed he had turned down less competitive MotoGP options for his World Superbikes move and while he predicts it'll take time for him and the new Fireblade to get up to speed he says the move was fuelled by the desire to return to the rostrum.
“I'm very interested in getting back on to the podium and with Honda's new Fireblade everything told me it will be a great option,” he said. “It is a long-term project and that is what I hope for.”