BSB: Honda riders complete first Pathway Class test at Oulton Park

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Honda Racing completed a special 2024 Class Technical Test at Oulton Park last night with their ridings riding the new ‘Pathway’ specification CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP.

The bike has been built to Pirelli National Superstock specifications, but has also been fitted with the official Bennetts British Superbike Championship Motec electronic control unit and wiring harness.

The idea behind the new Pathway class is to make entry to the Superbike class more accessible for teams and riders who are moving up from support classes, namely the Superstock category.

“It’s something that we have been working on, and Honda has been very enthusiastic to be involved and to help us with this project,” BSB Series Director Stuart Higgs said. “With the current Honda Superstock material, we have seen how the minimum number of changes can be implemented to make a Superbike-style spec bike. That together with what we’re trying to achieve with the main Superbike class by bringing some things back to prolong reliability, to contain performance and to generally manage the long-term future of the class.

Honda Racing Pathway Technical Test team

“This is about creating options for teams in the future. In 2020 we proved with our Evo concept, when we brought it into play at the end of the 2009 season it instantly proved it was competitive and relent which ultimately formed the basis of what the class would move to in 2012.

“We know in racing that it’s all about the quality of the racing, and this is about giving teams and spectators options that won’t bring projects to a premature end. We have teams that have come into this championship, and indeed there are teams in world championship racing, and they have not managed to make it to the end of the season.

“This is about reflecting the actualities of the world and responding accordingly, and to do it in a live environment, with a live evaluation and getting rider feedback is so important and the best way to prove the relevance of these regulations and promote the health and sustainability of this championship.”

Andrew Irwin made his return to riding during the test having been out of action with a fractured humerus for several months. He was joined on track by Superstock racers Dan Linfoot, Richard Kerr and Joe Talbot.

All four riders shared riding duties onboard the new Pathway bike and between them they were able to complete 20 laps of the 2.69-mile circuit.

“The main difference between the two bikes is that the Pathway bike is really easy to ride, it’s much less physical, there is less wheelie, and there is less power, but that power is usable, you don’t have to kill the power with the rear brake as much which means you’re going forwards,” Irwin commented.

“For me, once it has the Superbike brakes, it will feel much nicer, especially because that’s what I’m used to. This bike finishes the corner really nicely, mid-corner it is perhaps not as good as the Superbike, but the throttle control is really nice, and you can open the gas in a nice easy way.

“It isn’t as aggressive on throttle opening. Honestly, I think this is a bike you can show your potential on against the best riders in Britain. You are going to have a bike with the same tyres, and the same electronics that is easier to ride. A Superstock rider coming to Superbike will find it easier, we have seen it in the past, Stock riders setp up and struggle, so I think this is a good stepping stone.”

Dan Linfoot onboard the Pathway Honda Fireblade

Linfoot is the championship leader in the Superstock class and spent multiple seasons in the Superbike class with Honda, picking up podiums and race wins onboard the old Fireblade.

“This bike is definitely pleasant to ride, it was comfortable on the side of the tyre in Cascades and in Hizzys, the bike wasn’t lurching out your hand and the progression wasn’t so fast you had to readjust, it was very controlled on the side of the tyre and feel quite fast at the apex,” Linfoot said.

“There is enough power in there too so it would drive out of the corner well. The bike was in a comfortable area straight away, the bike was definitely ‘Superstockish’ and on engine brake it was working relatively well.

“My first comment would be to tighten up the engine brake in second gar, especially when I add some lean angle the bike felt quite free, which for me isn’t what I would want. But as a first initial test it is definitely a bike that is pleasant to ride.”

Alongside the new Pathway Honda machine, the first official track action in the new Sportbike Championship and Kawasaki Superteen Championship took place. Junior Supersport rider Jacob Stephenson is completed a few laps on the Yamaha R7