Honda Racing achieved one of the exploits of the 24 Heures Motos by fighting back from 38th to second place! The team is also involved in road races. While awaiting the famous TT, team manager Jonny Twelvetrees, gives us some insights into the similarities and differences between these two branches of the sport.
Le Mans, the Isle of Man: funnily enough the names of these two iconic motor sport circuits resemble each other. On the one hand, the Le Mans–Bugatti layout a classic circuit measuring just over 4 km and a 24-hour race. On the other, the famous Snaefell Mountain Course, 6 x 60 kilometres (6 x 37.73 miles) consisting of streets and roads closed for the event and a long 1h 45mn sprint. In both cases, Honda Racing enters the CBR 1000 RR SP2 Fireblade, a machine from the Superbike category derived from a series production model with a few modifications, which differ depending on what is demanded from the bike and its rider.
“The engine development isn’t pushed quite as far for the 24 Hours as for the TT,” explains Twelvetrees. “Over such a long duration you can’t stress the engine in the same way you can for a race of less than 2 hours. The bike itself is also heavier because of the lights and certain parts are calibrated to beef up their solidity. The rider cannot push 100% of the time so the setup takes into account the need to be both quick and consistent. The bike mustn’t tire the rider. We use more performance-based setups for the TT.”
In a month the TT will be centre stage. “It’s a very demanding circuit on the engine. The surface isn’t perfect; it’s bumpy and sometimes the bike takes off! That sends the revs sky high and the oil is splashing around. In fact, we do a lot of work with Motul on this aspect. The TT is an event that’s much harder on the bike that a Superbike sprint race. It has some points in common with endurance. Besides the fact of having two pit stops that last less than a minute each, you have to look after the rider. Sheer power is crucial but the rider must be able to tame it easily. On the Isle of Man it’s more a question of confidence than comfort. The bike must pardon mistakes as the circuit doesn’t!”
Motul is a key partner for both the Le Mans 24 Hours for bikes and the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. Honda Racing is Motul’s technical partner in Endurance racing (FIM WEC) as well as in Road Racing.