Honda Reflects On LeMans 24-Hour Debut Of New CBR1000RR

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Teething issues and bad luck at the start of the race dooms the team for the remainder, but the new CBR1000RR Sp2 appears to have potential.

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Determination and hard work propel Honda Endurance Racing at the 24 Heures Motos

With 822 laps completed and 3,440km covered, the Honda Endurance Racing team finished the 40th 24 Heures Motos just outside the top-ten in 11th place today, after an outstanding display of teamwork, determination and hard work over the 24 hours.

The race got underway at 3pm local time at the Bugatti Circuit on Saturday 15 April and all-eyes were on the Honda team and the all-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, as it made its racing debut in the FIM Endurance World Championship. Freddy Foray started for the team but as he pulled away from the start, disaster struck and a problem with the chain saw Foray immediately back in the pit box.

With minutes ticking by the Honda squad worked hard and Foray was out of the box and on his way chasing down the pack. However, it wasn’t to be plain sailing for the first hour as two-sensor problems delayed team-mate Julien Da Costa, costing the team valuable time and places.

Rejoining the race last, in 59th place, the Honda squad knew they had work to do and trying not to be too disheartened Foray, Da Costa and Sebastian Gimbert set about making their way through the pack.

With super-slick pit stops, Honda’s endurance specialists gave it their all and impressed the EWC paddock with their determination and ‘never give up’ attitude, which by the halfway point saw the team sitting in the top-30.

As daylight broke over the 4.185km French circuit the Honda team had moved into the top-20 and had started to track down the top-ten. 11th place was eventually secured and with two hours remaining, and too big a gap to catch the team in front, the objective for the rest of the race was clear – bring the CBR home in this position.

With the Fireblade putting in a faultless performance once the initial issues were sorted and at a pace that could have well seen the team running in the top-five, Honda Endurance Racing finished the race just outside the top-ten and reconfirmed the endurance of the Fireblade machine, especially in the harsh environment of a 24-hour race.

The Honda Endurance Racing team will now look over the data collected from the race and get to work preparing for the next round of the 2017 FIM Endurance World Championship, the Oschersleben 8 Hours, in Germany on 19-20 May.

Freddy Foray111

Well, we have finished the 24 Heures Motos so that is the main thing. We got a very bad start and I cannot imagine the first hour like that again, it was a nightmare! But the team worked hard to resolve the issues and after we had no problems at all. We pushed and pushed over the whole race and being that far back we knew it wasn’t possible to get a top-five or even a top-ten, so to just be outside is very encouraging. We had good pace and overall it was a good result for the team, and we have learnt a lot. We don’t have a lot of an advantage with this Fireblade as it’s a new machine, but from this race we have learnt a lot and we have lots of data to take away and work on. You know for today we have to accept the result and we know that the potential is there, but now we have to work and be ready for Oschersleben.

Julien Da Costa 111

You know we have to take the positives from today and this weekend, we started bad but we finished strong and we were able to be strong throughout the whole race, once the team had sorted the early issues. So we do have an improvement and the positive thing is that the new Fireblade does work well, the engine, gearbox and electronics are all strong, we just have a few small details to fix. But I am really happy with the bike and it’s encouraging for the next races, we just need to have a star above looking out for us with some luck! We know that we can run in the top-five and our pace showed this all weekend, so it’s just a matter of time before we are there. But with a new bike it will take some work to get there, but I am sure with the teams dedication to succeed it won’t be that long.

Sébastien Gimbert 111

The new Fireblade is good, for me it was important to finish the race and we did this, unfortunately we just had the issues at the start, which held us back. This 24-hour race was a big test for us with some new team members and also with the new Fireblade, but we finished and we have a lot of data and information we can now take with us to help with the rest of the season. Everyone is working really well together and any issues were sorted quickly and once all resolved we had no further issues. I was happy with our pace, but we do need a second or two more, the CBR is very comfortable and has so much potential, but from this weekend I feel we have some information now that can help us with this. I’d like to thank the team for all their hard work and we will be back stronger for Germany!

Jonny Twelvetrees

Team Manager
Well we have just finished the 24 hours and it feels a lot longer than 24 hours! The start was crazy and most of our faces were very long after a string of problems at the start, but I was so impressed with the team and riders, how they all rallied round and got to work. The new Fireblade did a great job and so did everyone in the team, we’re pleased to finish just outside the top-ten – if you had said that we’d finish there at 6pm last night, I don’t think we’d have believed it! I’m really happy with our race pace as without the issues I believe we could have been running in the top-five. But it’s the first race for our new bike and yes, it’s not what we wanted, but I think we have shown that we have a very strong package and we just need to unlock the potential now. A small issue can stop you as much as a big one, but the important thing was that the guys were able to diagnose the problem and it worked as we had no further issues for the rest of the race. I’m happy, but now we do have a lot of work to do ahead of Oschersleben. It is a different race being eight hours and a different circuit, but we have 24 hours of data, which is a lot more than we started with. We are more knowledgeable now and need to take everything in and prepare for Oschersleben.

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