Honda Racing rider Julien Da Costa has finished the first day of Honda’s return to the MCE British Superbike Championship in second place, only 0.128 behind pole man Shane Byrne.
The Lincolnshire team are making the first of four scheduled wildcard appearances at the Norfolk circuit, and have debuted a special paint job to commemorate the famous 1994 ‘Urban Tiger’ colour scheme used on the road going Fireblade.
With the team working continuously to develop the package that took Alex Lowes to the title last year, however, successes this weekend won’t change their plan, according to team boss Neil Tuxworth.
“It’s good to be back at the front again, because the only way you can properly measure yourself is against the competition. Even if we win both races, though - not that I’m saying we will! - we’ll still stick with our plan to make three more wildcard appearances as we continue to develop the bike.”
“Julien is riding Kiyo’s bike from last year, while we keep Alex’s machine as it was as a reference. However, we haven’t been sitting still, and although it’s not a new Fireplace SP, we’ve improved the engine and power delivery as well as the weight distribution, in preparation for next year.”
Da Costa was keen to reiterate that the goal for the team at the wildcard cappearaces wasn’t to win the title, saying: “It was a surprise for me, and I didn’t expect the lap time we’ve got. We’re here to work, with nothing to win in the championship but nothing to lose also. We’ve been working lap after lap to try and make the bike better, and it seems to be working now! We don’t want to disturb every rider’s championship, so I’ll just do my race. We can be in the top ten for sure now, but I think top five is the aim for me now, as well as coming away with lots of data.”