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Ten Kate Teammates Get First Taste of New Honda CBR1000RR SP2 at Jerez Test

The Honda WSB team run by Ten Kate Racing took delivery of their production 2017 CBR1000RR SP2  bikes just two weeks ago. Rushing to get ready for the first test at Jerez, the bikes are obviously in an early stage of development.  

Below you will see comments from riders Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl following their first taste of the new machinery at the two-day Jerez test. For reference, Nicky Hayden was pretty quick on Day 2 with a lap time of 1:40.5 seconds, putting him sixth fastest (although, on qualifying tires). WSB testing continues next weekend at Portimao. Here is the press release from Honda:

The Honda WorldSBK Team has completed today the first private test of 2017 at Circuito de Jerez in southern Spain. Official Honda riders Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl were able to try for the first time the WorldSBK-spec version of the brand-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 they will use throughout the 2017 edition of the FIM Superbike World Championship.

Blessed by good weather conditions – despite cold temperatures in the morning – the test proved very useful for Hayden and Bradl, who were able to put in a considerable amount of laps. Both riders worked hard with their crews over the two days while trying to get an early understanding of the new package, before making some first set-up changes.

On the final day, the team successfully put to test the performance of the bike with qualifying tyres, with Hayden finishing as the sixth quickest rider of the test and Bradl being only three tenths of a second slower than his team mate.

The Honda WorldSBK Team will be back on track this weekend at Portimão’s Autodromo do Algarve with another two-day test, the last one before travelling to Phillip Island for the traditional World Superbike official test and the opening round of the season.

Nicky Hayden 69
103 laps / 1’40.548

It has been two useful days of testing here at Jerez and luckily the weather was on our side in the afternoons. The team has done a great job to put the bike together and bring it here, despite the short time they had available to prepare them. We used yesterday almost exclusively as a shakedown day and in the afternoon we were able to make some decent runs, while today we tried to work more on the bike performance, just to get the bike in the right window, and a bit of a direction. We’ve made a couple of steps but it’s obvious we’re still behind our competitors at the moment. There’s still a lot of work to do and time to make up; when we used the qualifying tyre the time we set made us look closer than we actually are. Overall we found some positives today: we worked a lot on finding more grip and the bike ran smoothly without any glitch. The team has a little bit of time now to understand the data before Portimao.

Stefan Bradl 6
99 laps / 1’40.854

This having been the very first test with the new bike, we expected it not to be the smoothest of rides. Overall, though, it wasn’t so bad! Today we made some important improvements compared to yesterday. We still have to do some work on corner exit in order to find some more grip – and speed – out of turns. Obviously, we didn’t have enough time to react massively on the bike, we are just making small steps to try and get a first understanding of the new Fireblade. Overall it has been a positive two days of testing, because the weather allowed us to lap consistently around the track. Despite some expectable teething issues, it wasn’t too bad. In just two days we’ll be in Portimão, where we will continue with our work.

Pieter Breddels
Technical Manager

For being the very first outing with the new Blade, we can say we’re quite satisfied. We did not have any issue with the engines so we managed to do a great deal of laps. We gathered a lot of data in order to understand the behaviour of the new ride-by-wire system, especially in relation to the throttle body, and after some teething problems things ran smoothly. The engine is already a little bit faster than last year’s one, knowing this one is far from the spec we will bring to Phillip Island. The engine mapping was still not optimised and that made it a bit more difficult to set everything up, although this had to be expected. We’ll have this one sorted before Australia. Time to go to Portimão now, where only Stefan has ridden – but not raced – before.


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42 Comments

  1. Norm G. says:

    OMG, please update this article with a 2nd article showing the new RedBull Honda livery TenKate has scored for WSBK this year, it’s an instant classic rivalling the Edwards/Slight Castrol Hondas of old.

    too bad the bike will likely not go well, but be damned if Nick and Steve won’t look good doing it…!!! LOl (see entry for one of best schemes in the paddock in some time)

    • Norm G. says:

      oh yeah, and don’t forget to mention the new Race 2 P1-P3 Reverse Grid format.

      fwiw, FIA Diesel Trucks runs 4 races some weekends and reverses Races 2-4 all the way back to 8th.

  2. VROD says:

    Nicky Hayden? The Kentucky Kid is a nice guy, but I would not hire him to win a championship.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The Kentucky Kid is a nice guy, but I would not hire him to win a championship.”

      aww man.

  3. Troy F Collins says:

    If you look very carefully and honestly….the 2017 bike is an evolution frame..swing arm…engine cases…much of which looks very much unchanged from the 08-14 bike…The 2017 bike has blanking plates that cover the holes on the side of the frame spars a dead give away Obviously the details are internal…the frame has been pared off internally for sideways chassis flex…and the motor has been beefed up valve sizes..comp ratio etc…. but hey they have added the electronics package and bling suspension …..

    Ive ridden the 16′ ZX10r on the road….and the Honda feels stronger in the 5-8500 rpm range above 10000rpm the Kaw really flies how often do you stay over 10 grand on the road ?

    Its a dichotomy to design a superbike these days I’m thinking Honda is playing a waiting game

    • Curtis says:

      Indeed most of the 2017 updates are looking better for the road than the track, esp given initial reports of not-excessively-sorted electronics, of which the race teams invariably already had much more advanced versions.

      What remains to be seen, then, is if the engine changes (compression ratio, valve-train mostly, right?) allow a significant evolution in race trim. Time will tell!

  4. MotoMaster39 says:

    Don’t forget that the Factory Kawi’s are based on the new ZX10RR which has strategic engine specs to allow easy race tuning. And as others have said, that’s a full factory effort.

    If the stated two week time frame is accurate, its still very early days in the new Blade’s development cycle. I’m sure they’ll find some more power and bridge the gap somewhat. At the very least Hayden should be competitive on circuits with a lot of flow like Assen and Phillip Island.

    Any way you slice it, that Kawi 1000 has been an absolute rocket for years now. It’s gonna take a lot of work for any other company to match them, factory effort or not.

  5. proheli says:

    Ten Kate is capable, but Honda is the limiting factor. The new Blade is completely underwhelming. Its already back of the pack and it just came out a few weeks ago. That would be laughable if it weren’t so disgusting for the largest most powerful motorcycle manufacturer in the world. For reason we don’t know, Honda could care less about the super bike class and its legion of loyal fans that they seem to let down year after year. Honda is tops at the marketing tease, promising something special year after year, but then nothing ever shows up. I lost respect for them years ago.

    • MGNorge says:

      Are you pointing at the peak hp number when saying the Blade is underwhelming?

      • Dave says:

        Re: “legion of loyal fans”

        WSBK has unfortunately receded back to a minor-league. They put the effort into what people are watching – MotoGP. As for the new bike, I bet it’s an awesome street sport bike, just like it’s predecessor was. I think they learned their less with the RC-51. Great bike, won the championship, wasn’t so great on the street and thus, didn’t sell well.

        All that said, this is the first test of the new bike, which was prepped on very limited time. Give it a couple of months, it should get a lot better.

        • Dave says:

          Worth note, at the end of this test, Nicky was 6th, less than 1sec. off of Rea’s fastest, and well ahead of several good riders on better developed bikes. Info and times at cyclenews.com

          • downgoesfraser says:

            Hayden said not to put too much in that since he did it on a qualifying tire.

          • Curtis says:

            Hayden also said he wasn’t riding that hard, waiting for his recently repaired knee to come good.

            Because I’m pulling for Hayden pretty hard this year, remember he’s also a much faster racer than tester.

            Of course, no telling if he really did what he said he did (take it easy).

            Taking nothing away from the over-achieving Ten Kate team, it’s not exaggeration to say that the Kawasaki crew are “pretty dialed”. Let’s see what happens after some more testing.

        • theguy says:

          I find the RC-51 a great street bike if you live near the twisties, for some of the reasons it was Colin Edwards’s favorite on the track. Big v-twin vibration is definitely annoying on long highway slogs despite the 90-degree primary balance.

          Many have written that the prior generation CBR1000RR was a great street bike despite not winning on the short circuits; McGuinness would probably agree.

        • Troy F Collins says:

          The RC51 was never designed to be a production model or sales success….having said that.. its still to this day an amazing bike to ride…..on the road

          It took 6 yrs to win 2 WSBK titles on the RC30 and six years for one WSBK title on the RC45

          They won two WSBK titles in three years with the RC51

          The 51′ never got the respect it deserves because they took a page out of Ducati’s book and cold blooded calculation is always low key…….but it worked

          • stinkywheels says:

            Well said. I owned, rode, loved, sold an RC51. It was best finished, solid feeling twin I ever rode. I’ve not been on a 996 or later Duc, yet, (still working on a 748,for now) but it would be VERY hard to beat the solid Honda feel of quality. I only put about 5k on the bike with a 500 mile day to see if I was still tough enough after all these birthdays. It’s no Road King but a VERY good sport tourer despite being a racer through and through.

          • Dave says:

            Re: “The RC51 was never designed to be a production model or sales success…”

            C’mon now, we’re talking about Honda, not Ducati. They expected to sell these, and their other sportbikes on the back of AMA, BSBK, WSBK, and every other national series it would be raced in. If they didn’t think and effort would result kn market success, then they wouldn’t do it.

          • Troy F Collins says:

            You could be over simplifying the concept of lumping in the RC51 with all the production based Honda Motorcycles

            It was built purely to homologation rules of SBK by HRC it has no refinements or concessions toward working as a excellent street bike…..

            A CBR was always conceived as a street bike first with a few alterations and you can take it racing

            The RC51 was conceived as a race bike first…..sold because it needed to…to meet homologation requirements….if it cost twice as much as its list price no one would have batted an eye

            Its a bit gruff….has minimal instrumentation…poor fuel range…seat is as hard as a boars butt….protests low speed running….

            Still very charming indeed however and decent enough that it works well on the road

          • Dave says:

            Troy, I agree with you. I am pointing out why the new CBR isn’t another RC51.

          • Troy F Collins says:

            Sorry Dave I got way off topic

          • Curtis says:

            Love that this thread turned into a bit of an RC51 love-fest.

            I agree with all that is said. In fact, putting my money where my mouth is. Had an ’01, sold it awhile back and wish I hadn’t. Purchased a nice used ’02 last year and am going to continue toying with that this next summer rather than spend money on a new SP. I think. 😉

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I saw one come up for sale not long ago… still in the crate.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “I saw one come up for sale not long ago… still in the crate.”

            where and what year…? talk to me goose.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Don’t recall the year, 01 maybe. Houston, TX Craigslist. I’d be shocked if it is still there. Price was reasonable. Good luck.

          • Dave says:

            Norm, give Searchtempest.com a try. Enter your zip code, the mile radius you’d like to search, and what you’re searching for (“RC-51”). It’ll mine Craigslist and Ebay for anything matching your query and bring back a list for you.

          • Norm G. says:

            hmmn “searchtempest” never heard of that one before, must be what all the cool kids are using…?

            I’M ON IT…!!!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Honda is the limiting factor”

      re: “For reason we don’t know, Honda could care less about the super bike class and its legion of loyal fans that they seem to let down year after year. Honda is tops at the marketing tease, promising something special year after year, but then nothing ever shows up. I lost respect for them years ago.”

      I have nothing to add here.

      • Curtis says:

        Agreed. Used to be a big fan, got tired of waiting (IMO Rea would have won his championships on a Honda if they’d just given him the goods).

        Got (temporarily) excited by the new Fireblade but after further consideration, looks like a nice upgrade for the street and maybe/maybe not enough to fuel Nicky to the title. Hope for a pleasant surprise and that limited engine upgrades are JUST enough.

    • downgoesfraser says:

      Honda is the biggest for a reason. How big is the market for superbikes? 600’s?. The future is in smaller displacements. Going to be fun to watch the new class for 3-500’s.

  6. Allison says:

    Very frustrating, Honda doesn’t seem interested in production based racing anymore. Nicky isn’t getting any younger and to think he will spend another year in development is painful. Although as a consumer I want the new Fireblade, it looks like a true top-grade superbike for the street, but I’m afraid it might be a day-late and a dollar-short in the WSBK arena, as in the improvements to the base bike are impressive, but the gap between them and front-runners is huge, Honda is claiming 189 at the crank, which is great, but how much farther Ten Kate can take that motor remains to be seen. I will stay hopeful for Nicky as I know he can win if he has the ponies and handling to do so.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “but I’m afraid it might be a day-late and a dollar-short in the WSBK arena, as in the improvements to the base bike are impressive, but the gap between them and front-runners is huge, Honda is claiming 189 at the crank, which is great, but how much farther Ten Kate can take that motor remains to be seen.”

      if only I knew what was in the SP2’s extra race kit I could make a proper determination, but I still haven’t heard anything. does anybody know…? Bueller…? anyone…?

      • Norm G. says:

        or wait, is the slightly larger valves all Nick and Steve’s getting…? if so that’s not homologation that’s a practical joke. 🙁

    • Wayne M. says:

      Honda’s WSBK participation seems lacking? Guys & gals, it’s “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday…” Only thing is, Sport liter-bike registrations are in the toilet world-wide, with very very few exceptions. It’s a shrinking market. Honda get’s it and it’s purely $$$. Why double down on it? You can market your brand through MotoGP and it’s quite costly enough on it’s own.

      • Allison says:

        Yep, Honda gets it alright. Spending millions in Moto GP is like preaching to the choir. But I’m pretty sure the choir is deaf. Only die hard motorcyclist/race fans watch Moto GP, the average Joe doesn’t even know it exist. And all the Moto GP championships in the world couldn’t sell the liter bike they were offering to the public for the last 9 years. There isn’t and hasn’t been a correlation between winning at the track and bike sales for a very long time. Maybe MM’s performances are sending Ruckus sales through the roof, who knows. Heck, in 2012 when Ducati was embarrassing and humiliating Rossi every weekend they were selling $20,000 Pani’s like hot cakes. People eat up marketing trends, performance #’s and above all progressive design. You don’t sell bikes, you sell an image. If the Euro’s want to make the Ferrari’s of the motorcycling world, I think Honda’s more than happy to sell 10X the amount of Accords (i.e. entry level, utility bikes).

  7. Tommy D says:

    The team had the bike for all of two weeks. They are not really ready for all out testing. Nicky confessed that the tank/seat/bars and rear sets are off of last years bike. It’s a long way till they get the motor to full WSBK tune. This isn’t really an HRC effort is it? Certainly not a full out effort like Kawi’s team. Or MotoAmerica’s Yamaha team for that matter.

    • MGNorge says:

      Ten Kate has been around for some time and have been more than capable in developing bikes to race at the front. If Honda has delivered the goods then Ten Kate will make it be. I’m more than sure there’s a live back line to Honda during its development.

    • SDave says:

      Re: “Certainly not a full out effort like Kawi’s team.”

      Remember, it took the Kawasaki effort *years* to get that first win and it could be argued that part of their success was in part due to all of the other factories reducing their own efforts. It wasn’t that long ago when almost all of the competing makes were scoring wins. It didn’t translate to sales so they took their ball and went to the Adventure store.