Honda: “Other manufacturers have made a huge step, we’re not at the same level”

Team HRC’s Jose Escamez admits Honda are still not where they need to be as testing continues in Catalunya.

Xavi Vierge, Race 1, Australian WorldSBK, 24 February
Xavi Vierge, Race 1, Australian WorldSBK, 24 February

After a disappointing first round of the 2024 WorldSBK season at Phillip Island, Honda are in attendance with all four of its riders and test rider Tetsuta Nagashima.

In Australia, Ducati, Kawasaki, Yamaha and BMW all managed to achieve a podium or better, but Honda were the lone manufacturer missing in that regard. 

“It’s obvious that a rider always wants something else,” Escamez told “Other manufacturers have made a huge step and maybe we’re not at the same level yet, but I’m confident that we will get there and with all the information we got from Australia.

“We have a much clearer idea about the way we want to go and what the targets are.

“When you have a crash and don’t understand why, it’s normal to be upset so I really understand Iker.”

One area of the Honda that is working very well is the engine, which has been very powerful for several years.

But managing to deploy all its power in the right way seems to be a struggle, with Escamez saying: “The engine is really powerful. The only thing we are trying to solve in the short term is trying to profit from this power.

“We can’t generate the grip, we struggle to stop the bike and then in the corners, we go wide.

“This is the main target and this is something we already faced in the past. In Australia, we got a lot of information that’s going to help us solve all this.

“We’ve got new items. We have a lot of faith that they’re going to work. It won’t be something that solves all our problems, it’ll be a little step that we’ve not tried on track. 

“That’s why we’re here, to test them on track. It’s just to have more engine brake and it’s important to solve this aggressive response from the engine.

“It’s base setup and electronics, it’s something we knew. It looks like a pointless thing, but the way we lost a test day at Portimao in December due to rain, we delayed our development a little bit. We’re getting closer to where we want to be.”

In terms of the testing programme over the two-day test, Nagashima is trying new parts before Xavi Vierge and Iker Lecuona (if he continues riding due to his injury) do so.

“Nagashima will test something today that our riders will test tomorrow,” began Escamez. “We wanted to try it first on track. As much information we can get, the better. It’s part of our project.

“At the moment, aside from the electronics and power delivery, we’re still working on the base setup which is not bad but something we can still improve.

“We’re looking at little details to have the perfect bike… which is impossible! We didn’t get our proper base setup yet. Different tracks can adjust better.”

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