Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark have completed their first shakedown tests on the Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP during a private test at Jerez in Spain which concluded yesterday afternoon.
The four-day test was plagued by rain showers, including a completely wet day on Thursday, which limited track time for the two new Pata Honda World Superbike riders. However, both expressed satisfaction at their first rides on Honda’s flagship production sports bike.
Carrying the number one plate for the first time, Guintoli, spent his first laps on the Fireblade getting accustomed to a different engine configuration compared to the machine on which he won this year’s World Superbike championship title.
However, the 32-year-old French rider gave his new team, including crew chief Flavio Prodolliet, some valuable feedback and a positive response to the 1000cc in-line four cylinder machine, particularly its refined chassis and handling characteristics.
For young Dutch flyer van der Mark it was an entirely new feeling to experience the raw power of a SBK-specification race bike, despite winning the last two editions of the famous Suzuka 8-hour World Endurance race on Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade.
The 2014 World Supersport champion, 22, started the Jerez test with a minimum level of electronics in order to fully appreciate the full-power Fireblade, with traction control and other rider aids gradually increased during the four days of testing.
It’s been a really positive first encounter with my new team and the CBR. It’s clearly a different machine to what I’ve been riding for the last two years so this test was really all about dialling into the Honda and learning about its strengths. We’ve gone in a big, wide circle to learn how the bike reacts in a number of different situations. So, while the lap times are nothing to jump up and down about, we’ve done the base work here and we have a good direction to go in the next time we test. It’s also been good to get to know the mechanics, the technicians and the rest of the team this week. We’ve had some good laughs and there’s already a great atmosphere in the box.
Michael van der Mark
Well, when I first got on the bike on Monday it was certainly different, but I’ve really enjoyed this first test! The weather hasn’t been so great but I started on the first two days with no electronics, just to get a feel for the bike and a new level of power. On Wednesday I used a bit more of the electronics and we made some really big changes just to see what each part of the system can do, so that was really useful. I was quite happy with everything this week and also happy with my lap times on old tyres. I also used a qualifying tyre on Wednesday and was able to go around a second faster on that, which is the expectation I think. Now, it’s back to training through December before getting back on the bike in the middle of January, which is going to be a really busy month.
The week has been really good, even though the weather here in Jerez has not. Sylvain was quite fast in the wet on our final day and we were able to test some different engine maps, as well as a different clutch and chassis settings. In the dry weather that we had on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, we played with the CBR quite a lot and obviously had to work differently to what Sylvain has been used to. However, we made good progress and came back to some settings that have worked before. Michael was not quite so fast in the wet but his performance and work was really good in the dry and we’re very happy with his first outing on the bike. Neither rider has identified any major problems, so we’re looking forward to a lot more positive progress during a really busy testing programme in January.