Honda Racing Corporation is facing a dilemma in World Superbike: they’ve tried all they could with the latest generation of the iconic CBR1000RR Fireblade, but the bike still isn’t up to the task, and we have yet to see a CBR getting a win in this championship, in a dry race, since Jonathan Rea switched from Honda to Kawasaki in 2015.
In Japan, HRC has been working hard to develop the WSBK version of the Fireblade, but the project is still very much linked to the effort of long-time partners Ten Kate, led by Ronald Ten Kate and with official support from Honda Europe, not HRC directly.
That means that the official Honda team in World Superbike does get factory parts for the bike, but the team is still very much like a private team and not the full factory like Aruba.it Ducati or Kawasaki Racing Team.
But that is about to change, and according to German newsportal SpeedWeek, it’s HRC director Tetsuhiro Kuwata who visited the team during some rounds this season, to see for himself what’s going on for the team not getting the expected results, that is now forcing Honda Japan to accept a radical change in the World Superbike project.
Those trips to the World Superbike paddock by Tetsuhiro Kuwata were also a way for HRC to start contacts with other teams, like Althea Racing, who won’t continue its partnership with BMW Motorrad, who will be supporting the Shaun Muir Racing team next season.
SpeedWeek quotes Genesio Bevilacqua saying that his team, Althea, is ready to become part of the Honda project, but only if HRC decides to make a bigger effort and enter this championship directly and not through their subsidiary Honda Europe.
And the HRC seems to be interested in doing that. To complete this revolution, HRC has asked to longtime Japanese partners Moriwaki, to replace the Ten Kate team. Moriwaki finds this proposal very attractive, and after the success in the Japan Superbike Championship, Moriwaki believes they can do better than Ten Kate did until now with getting the CBR1000RR Fireblade fighting for top positions.
HRC would bring a large part of their engineers to every round of World Superbike, deliver the complete factory prepared Fireblade’s and factory spec components, while Moriwaki would have to take care of the rest.
Moriwaki doesn’t have the structure to take this factory effort ahead, but a partnership with Althea Racing might be the solution, and the confirmation of this new project might be coming very soon.
As for riders, Leon Camier, current Red Bull Honda rider, has a factory contract with HRC until the end of 2019, so he will be in the new team for sure, not to mention the experience he has with racing the Japanese bike. The second rider is still much in the open: Honda Racing Corporation would like to see one of its Japanese talented riders joining the world stage, probably Takumi Takahashi, but Althea Racing have their sights set on Xavi Forés, the Spanish rider, who conquered the independent title in World Superbike this season and is left without a ride for 2019.