Honda’s World Superbike team endured a tough time in the opening two tests of 2017 with both Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl struggling on their first outings with the new CBR1000RR Fireblade.
With the team only taking delivery of the new bikes three weeks before the first test, it was always going to be difficult for the Dutch Ten Kate team but Hayden and Bradl remain confident of closing the gap to the front.
Hayden was 0.739 seconds slower than pace man Jonathan Rea at Jerez but admitted himself that the true gap to the front was larger than that as his quickest time was set on qualifying rubber.
He continued to struggle in Portimao this weekend, where he lapped 1.6 seconds off the pace set by Chaz Davies as he suffered with power delivery and grip issues.
“It was definitely not the easiest test, but it surely helped the team to collect a lot of data,” Hayden said after Portimao. “The power is still not delivered quite smoothly enough so it wasn’t easy to find the grip and keep the bike calm under acceleration.
“We were unable to improve every area in quite the way we wanted but with the team’s work during these days we hope to be more competitive in Phillip Island because there’s still a gap to bridge to the front runners.”
Team-mate Stefan Bradl added: “It was not an easy two days of testing, as unfortunately we faced some issues that did not allow us to improve the way we would have liked. We still have to fully sort out the electronics and mapping for this engine so the bike is still a bit nervous.
“The data we collected in these four days of testing will be crucial in order to further develop the bike and be ready for the season opener. We will keep working hard and keep the motivation up in order to competitive for Australia and I’m sure we will be on the pace by then.”
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