Michael Laverty and Jon Kirkham shared the track at Cadwell Park yesterday (Thursday) with their Padgetts Honda rivals as the pair got their first experience of the Honda UK Fireblades ahead of the opening round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship this Easter (6-9 April).
Their shakedown test earlier in the week had been cancelled due to conditions however the pair made up for lost time today in good conditions at Cadwell Park as they ran the Fireblades for the first time.
Laverty and Kirkham utilised the day to get dialled in to the new ecu and continued work on the base setting as the team began their scheduled programme.
Both riders were already impressed with the Honda engines and are looking ahead now to their next test in the UK.
Laverty said: “It was a good first day for us, but it was what I had expected as first days out on track usually have a similar format.
"We were able to get the new ecu dialled in and the team had a good base setting that they had worked on from a combination of what Shakey and Kiyo had run last year.
"We have made some small changes to the chassis but we didn’t want to turn everything upside down today just for the sake of it. The engine was easy to use at the spec to suit the new rule changes but the Honda does feel so different to the Yamaha I raced last year so it did take some laps to adapt.
"I have never relied on traction control before; I prefer to work off the throttle control, now you just have to be able to judge the slide better with the throttle.
"We have some ideas on how we can gain on corner entry and I think for everyone at the start of the test it is about going back to basics, once we get racing I think the changes will definitely shake things up this year.
"The team have done a great job with the new spec engine so it has been a good start for us ahead of our next test.”
Kirkham said: “It was a great first day in the office and we had a productive shakedown. We really gelled as a team and we didn’t have any problems which you sometimes get on the first day out.
"We just worked to get me comfortable on the Fireblade and now it is like my own armchair! Cadwell Park is a tough place for a first test when you haven’t ridden in a few months but we really got back into it.
"I haven’t needed to change my riding style or adapt really to the new bike, even with the changes that are there to suit the new rules. In fact today I found that the Honda wheelies less than bikes I have ridden before with the anti-wheelie turned on!
"I have just been getting used to the different clutch and the only major thing we are going to change is the grips on the handlebars for the next test.
"Other than that we are looking to jump on the Honda again next week at the next test and now we have got some laps under our belt today we can really start pushing on.”