bikesportnews.com’s Alan Dowds has spent today getting to grips with the 2017 Honda Fireblade and SP models at Portimao, here are his first impressions:
“We’ve spent all day at Portimao – a very technical track with lots of ‘busy’ corners, super-high-speed sections, and a massive 4.5km length. First up, we were out on the stock Fireblade, with no less a hero than Freddie Spencer showing round the folk like me who were riding the track for the first time.
“The stock bike made it easy to work out what went were. Indeed, the bike almost melts away under you, letting you focus on what tricky stretch of Tarmac you’re going to have to wrestle with next.”
“After a couple of sessions though, the track temperatures were up, I had a better idea of where I was going, and the road tyres were starting to complain under the stress of the new 190bhp fly-by-wire motor.
“Luckily, Honda had the answer – in the form of the new SP version of the bike, shod with hot, sticky Bridgestone V02 slicks. The SP has the same engine, but the chassis gets Ohlins semi-active electronic suspension, and Brembo brakes. And as the pace got hotter, the Ohlins suspension stood out, giving the SP a much more planted, solid feel when hard on the brakes and accelerating out of Portimao’s multiplicity of bends.
“Honda’s really pulled out the stops with the new bike. And judging by the positive comments and body language from the firm’s BSB racers Dan Linfoot and Jason O’Halloran, plus TT legend John McGuinness and Honda star Jenny Tinmouth, they all seem to think so too.”
Check back for our full test of the bike tomorrow, once our man Dowds has deciphered the excited scribbles in his notebook, and the photos have come back from Snappy Snaps…