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‘Reality’ bites for Honda as 2024 WorldSBK opener exposes CBR1000RR-R struggles

Gold & Goose

Xavi Vierge says he and Team HRC ‘cannot be happy’ with its results from the opening round of the 2024 WorldSBK Championship as Honda found itself crowded out by its rivals on a tough weekend at Phillip Island.

The Japanese manufacturer came to the Aussie curtain raiser looking to make a statement with the latest iteration of its Honda CBR1000RR-R SP package following the roadgoing model’s update in November.

However, with expectations already tempered by the machine’s underwhelming performance during pre-season testing, there was to be no redemption in race conditions as Vierge - going solo for Team HRC after Iker Lecuona was forced out of the event through injury - spent his weekend mired in the lower reaches of the mid-pack.


Though the Spaniard would go on to crack the top ten with a run to tenth in Race 1, he could only manage 13th in Race 2 for what were Honda’s only other points of the weekend.

The performance will come as a cause of concern for both Honda and Team HRC, which has been pinning its hopes on the latest Fireblade - now on its second re-homologated update in just two years - to transform it into a consistent WorldSBK front-runner.

However, while Vierge had praise for the bike’s potential, he says the bike is hindered by time-sapping handling issues.

“We cannot be happy, of course, but this is our reality right now. As a team, we’ve worked well throughout the testing sessions and the race weekend. 

“As I've mentioned before, the feeling on the bike isn't bad; I enjoy riding it. But we're not as fast as the others. 

“We’re still struggling a lot out of the corners and with turning, which makes battling with other riders incredibly difficult because we constantly have to make up ground in braking. 

“My pace isn't too bad when I'm riding alone, but when I need to fight with others I struggle, because in a battle it's hard to maintain the perfect lines. And riding like that puts a lot of stress on the tyres. 


“Every year, the championship level gets higher, and even small details can make a significant difference in terms of performance and results. 

“Having said that, we are aware of the situation and we know we need to keep working and try to find a solution, possibly in the short term.”

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