Honda had been making forward steps since their return as a factory-run team but Magny-Cours highlighted where improvements can be made
After scoring Team HRC’s first podium since their return to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at the Teruel Round, and showing that Honda could lead races at the Spanish Round, Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) and teammate Leon Haslam would have been full of confidence heading into the Pirelli French Round at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.
Rain impacted across all three days of track action and Bautista was unable to haul himself into the top ten across the weekend, as he qualified in 17th place in Tissot Superpole before securing a best finish of the weekend of 12th in Race 1. Teammate Haslam showed stronger pace as he fought at the front before a Race 1 crash, but was unable to transfer that into Sunday’s two races as he finished 11th in the Tissot Superpole Race and 13th in Race 2.
Discussing the issues from the weekend, Bautista said: “It was a very tough weekend for us. From Free Practice 1, I never had a good feeling with the rear. I struggled all weekend. We tried different solutions but, in the end, it didn’t change a lot, so I did the whole weekend without contact feeling at the rear. In Race 2, with less water on the track, I improved the feeling a little bit, but nothing compared to the others as everyone else went faster. For sure, these conditions for us have been new and we have many problems. We know that in slippery conditions, we struggle, and on wet it’s even worse. We have a lot of work to do for the future and now try to forget all this weekend as it’s been horrible for my feeling with the bike.”
Haslam also disclosed his thoughts from the weekend, as he explained: “Yesterday we had some problems, but we could still fight with Scott and some other guys. Today we had some more problems and we were not able to fight for these positions. Honestly, it was very difficult. I fought with Toprak in all three races but the problems we had I could not find a way around. In the end, the best we can do was 13th.”
WorldSBK heads to Estoril for the season-ending Estoril Round in two weeks and both Bautista and Haslam will be hoping this is just a blip as Honda has shown recent progress to be able to fight for podiums and have the pace to lead races. The conditions across the Magny-Cours weekend were nothing like those that had been seen across the 2020 season and Honda will be hoping they are not repeated at Estoril.
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