Flying start to 2019 for Honda’s BSB team at pre-season testing
Honda’s British Superbike team has got its 2019 campaign off to a flying start with riders Xavi Forés and Andrew Irwin in the mix during the European official Bennetts British Superbike Championship tests; rounding off the final day third and ninth on the timesheets.
With glorious conditions over the five days, the Honda team worked through a comprehensive testing programme, with Forés and Irwin testing different components and optimising the set-up of the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.
The opening day of the Monteblanco test saw Forés and Irwin second and ninth respectively, with Forés having led the way for most of the day before being pipped to the post by ex-MotoGP star Scott Redding, by 0.169 seconds.
The following days at the circuit to the west of Seville saw times get faster across the field, with both Forés and Irwin improving their lap times and rounding out the test fifth and seventh respectively.
Moving across the border to Portugal, the teams’ had a further two days at Portimão, where Forés and Irwin dominated the morning times holding first and second. Using his knowledge of the circuit Forés led the pack well into the afternoon, but was knocked off the top-spot by just 0.026 seconds; Irwin finished the day fifth.
The final day, again saw Forés fastest out the blocks leading the pack well into the afternoon. Wrapping up the day with a fastest time of 1:43.761, Forés finished third, 0.161 seconds from the front. Irwin rounded out the test ninth on the timesheets after calling it a day after lunch, feeling he had got the best out of himself and also the Fireblade.
The teams’ Superstock 1000 rider Tom Neave made significant improvements over the five days and during the final two days at Portimão shaved 1.574 seconds off his lap time. Wrapping up the test 22nd overall, Neave was the fourth fastest rider in the Superstock category.
With the European tests concluded, the team will now head back to the UK to prepare for the first round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship on 19-21 April, with one final test outing beforehand at Silverstone on 9 April.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Portimao Official Test, final combined result:
1. Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) 1m:43.600s
2. Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.127s
3. Xavi Forés (Honda Racing) +0.161s
4. Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing Ducati) +0.304s
5. Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.319s
6. Josh Elliott (OMG Racing Suzuki) +0.407s
7. Danny Buchan (FS-3 Racing Kawasaki) +0.478s
8. Glenn Irwin (Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.816s
9. Andrew Irwin (Honda Racing) +1.006s
10. Luke Mossey (OMG Racing Suzuki) +1.160s