A year to forget for the Honda squad
Heading into the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship with an all new bike and rider line-up, Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team had a tough challenge ahead of them with the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machine. With a steady start to the season, the team was hit by tragedy in May when Nicky Hayden lost his life following a training incident, casting a shadow over the team.
Stefan Bradl and Hayden we able to put in a strong and determined start to the season, despite minimal testing time with the Fireblade. German Bradl made his move over to WorldSBK from MotoGP™, and his debut saw him score points in Australia before he began to make progress in Thailand. Securing his best finish of the season around TT Circuit Assen, with a top six finish in race one – he was starting to make the bike into a consistent top ten finisher. The 2011 Moto2 World Champion was making some steps with the bike, but an injury sustained in Portugal ruled him out of the remainder of the season following surgery.
Heading into his second season in the WorldSBK paddock, Hayden now had the new bike to contend with after he was able to take four podiums and one victory on the 2016 bike. Presented with the new challenge, the American’s best result of 2017 was a top seven around Chang International Circuit, but he was able to consistently score points in the 10 races he competed in. The loss of Hayden left a big hole in the WorldSBK paddock, and will continue to be incredibly missed.
Fellow American Jake Gagne was drafted in around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to ride Hayden’s bike, and the young rider impressed on his first outing on the world stage. Scoring points in front of his home fans, he was then called back in France and Qatar where he continued to learn and improve with the Fireblade – taking three top 12 finishes.
Davide Giugliano made a reappearance into the WorldSBK paddock around Lausitzring, Magny-Cours, Jerez and Qatar. The Italian, who made the move over to the UK for 2017 took on the challenge of the Honda machine in the latter half of the season, securing his best result of a top eight in France.
The fifth rider to tackle the Japanese beast this season was HRC rider Takumi Takahashi, who took on the honour around Portimao and Jerez. Bringing in support from HRC engineers, he scored points in three out of his four appearances – as he made his first step onto the world stage. His best result achieved was a top ten in Portugal, as he continued to help the Red Bull squad to develop the bike.
Relive some of the emotions felt by Honda this season, all with the WorldSBK VideoPass.