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Eazi Grip

Honda Racing UK back in action at BSB Donington Park Test

In blustery conditions, Honda Racing UK made its return to UK race circuits in the first official Bennetts British Superbike test of the year at Donington Park.

In his first outing on 2024 specification machinery, Andrew Irwin ended the test in fourth position and quickest Honda on combined times after posting fast and consistent lap times throughout the two days. He built from session to session throughout as he adapted to the new bike and worked through a comprehensive testing program.

This test marked the first outing for 2023 champion Tommy Bridewell, as he rolled out down the Donington pitlane for the first time aboard his 2024 Fireblade. Benefiting from the dry weather in five of the six sessions, Tommy worked diligently through his testing plan to end the day less than a tenth behind his teammate to sit fifth on combined times, marking a positive start to his title defence. His key objectives were to identify a strong base and adapt to riding an inline four-cylinder again after five years on an alternative engine configuration.

Dean Harrison, meanwhile, ended the test inside the top ten positions after posting the ninth quickest time of the two-day test in a strong first outing aboard his Bennetts British Superbike Fireblade. In what has so far proved to be a seamless transition to Honda machinery, the Yorkshireman proved that it is not just the roads where he can shine, building throughout the two-day test and growing in confidence as he became more acquainted with his Fireblade.

In his sensational return to the Quattro Group British Supersport series, Jack Kennedy wasted no time in getting down to business. Sitting at the top of the timesheets for two of the opening day’s three sessions aboard his CBR600RR, the Dubliner dialled back into riding the smaller capacity machine effortlessly and posted quick lap after quick lap throughout the test. He went on to back up his strong pace on day two in the windy conditions to post his fastest lap of the weekend on his final circuit, ending the test fourth overall on combined times and with plenty of valuable data logged and impressive pace on used tyres.

The team will next be in action at the official test immediately preceding round 1 of the championship at the Circuito de Navarra, the test is scheduled for 16 – 19 April and the racing action takes place 20 – 21.

Andrew Irwin:

“Honestly, it’s been a good test and we have worked through a lot of things. On every exit and in every session we have made a step forward and improved. We need to keep working and keep this momentum going, the ultimate goal is to keep improving and to keep moving forward. I feel like I am riding quite well again and I need to keep working hard over the next two weeks ahead of Navarra. We have two and a half days ahead of us there, so we need to focus on setting up the bike for the two longer races there as we don’t have a sprint race. I think Honda and the whole team in Louth have done a fantastic job, we have come here with a new bike and we have been competitive straight away. My team, Spider, Rhodri, Ben and Adam have all worked really well and I am really happy with how things are going, I try not to get too excited about testing, keep my head down and my focus is all on the racing that we have coming up.”

Tommy Bridewell:

I feel really strong and I have really enjoyed riding the bike. I think for me there was quite a big transition to manage, I’ve spent five years with a different manufacturer and I’ve got a big number one on the bike which makes me a target. Truthfully, I was sitting there at the start a little nervous but I feel like I’ve taken it all in my stride, I’ve got my head down, didn’t get flustered or panicked by lap times and we just chipped away with the bike and worked through our program. We’ve tried so many different things and learnt so much about the way the bike works which has been super valuable. I feel heading to Navarra we will focus a little more on electronics and work on them, chassis though I feel really good about. We are always striving to improve, even when we are fastest so that’s the target, but I feel we are in a good position.”

Dean Harrison:

I genuinely feel really happy, that’s one of the fastest lap times I’ve done around here, even in all that wind, on a new bike, so I’m happy. The bike feels really nice, there’s always room for improvement but I am super happy, the biggest change for me has been the difference in power delivery and the way the bike works on the side of the tyre, which is just a bit different to what I’m used to. I think we have been lucky with the weather, I don’t think the wind has helped, but I do think we’ve been lucky to get this much dry time. We’ve tried loads of different things on the bike, some things worked and some things didn’t but with my crew chief Lee we have worked well together. I feel good in myself and I feel good heading to Navarra, I know where I need to focus and where we can make some improvements.”

Jack Kennedy:

I shouldn’t feel frustrated to be P4 or be disheartened, we’ve had a great test in Spain and a great test here with plenty of track time – albeit with crazy wind. We’ve tried many settings on the CBR600RR and now we have a much better understanding of the bike, also working closely with Ohlins to learn everything we need to know. There’s a lot of fine-tuning in testing, throttle maps, engine breaking and all of that sort of stuff which is all going really well. We just didn’t get that one special lap to put us on top of the times but we have to remind ourselves this is testing and not qualifying. Our race pace is really strong and we have some updates to try in Navarra ahead of the first round. I feel very comfortable and relaxed here in the team which is great too, I’ve blended in with the lads easily, they all like a cup of tea and nobody takes sugar so it’s all good!”

Posted on Monday, April 8th, 2024 in News

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