MCN caught up with HM Plant Honda Team Manager Havier Beltran at the launch of the 2008 team at the Sports Café in Newcastle taking a look at the season ahead.
MCN: What are your plans heading to the first race of the season?
Beltran: “We’ll be testing two of the day at the MCRCB test at Snetterton – weather permitting. This is just an opening test and an opportunity to get all the teams together.
We have then got Croft for one day on Wednesday and then we head to Knockhill for the day on Friday. Knockhill has undulating hills whereas Croft is very flat. This is just what we need, the variation to go out and test the chassis and the tyres.
We have got a new bike, new riders and news tyres but fortunately both Cal (Crutchlow) and Leon (Haslam) have used Pirelli’s before. All the other major teams are finding themselves in the same situation but if we’ve planned things the way we think we have, we will be competitive.”
MCN: Who do you think will be the top riders?
Beltran: “You can’t rule out Shakey Byrne. Leon Camier moving to Ducati too means two new riders and new bikes there but in pre-season testing Shakey was going well.
I’m so passionate about Honda and about the team that I do believe our guys can take one-two in the championship.
There’s a lot of competition out there, BSB is a very competitive championship so there’s a lot that can happen."
MCN: Leon Haslam was so close to the title last year, how do you think he’ll get on in 2008?
Beltran: “Leon was very close last year so hopefully with the team and a lot of application we can take these guys to the BSB title.
It all looks positive so far as both Cal and Leon are fitting in to the team remarkably well.”