Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team’s Leon Camier capped off a strong showing in Thailand with a sixth place finish at Chang International Circuit, while Jake Gagne was back in the points after taking fourteenth place on the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.
Camier started on pole position in Race 2 courtesy of his fourth place in Race 1 and although he got the holeshot and led into the first corner, a fierce battle in the lead group resulted in him ending the first lap in P5. Showing consistent pace throughout the race, Camier was embroiled in the fight for the top five with Jonathan Rea and Xavi Forés and although he closed in on Forés in the final laps, he ultimately finished in sixth place.
Bouncing back after a tough race yesterday, Gagne had a strong start and in the opening exchanges fought his way up to ninth position. As the contest entered the final stages, Gagne found himself caught up in a five way battle for the top ten and despite a valiant final push was unable to make up positions and ended the race in P14.
After two rounds Camier is eighth in the WorldSBK standings on 42 points, while Gagne is sixteenth overall with 9 points. The series now heads to Europe where the Red Bull World Superbike Team will contest the Aragon WorldSBK round on April 13-15.
The 2018 campaign started in earnest last week for the Honda Racing roads team as they embarked on their first pre-season test at Monteblanco in Spain, with its new rider line-up of Ian Hutchinson and Lee Johnston. Although not riding at the test, as he still continues his recovery, ‘Hutchy’ was present for all three days and worked with the team as Johnston got to grips with the Fireblade SP2.
Plagued with intermittent weather over the three days, track time was limited and it wasn’t until the final day (Wednesday 7 March) that the team and Johnston were able to get their teeth stuck into the testing programme. With Hutchy not able to ride his machine, it was over to ‘The General’ who tested both his and Hutchy’s Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2s back-to-back, as well as Johnston aboard the Honda Superstock machine. Although not riding, Hutchy was able to work with the team with feedback from Johnston on the set-up of his right-hand gear shifter.
Johnston has history already with the SP2, as in 2017 he was a reserve 24 Heures Motos rider for the Honda Endurance Racing team, but with three riders to cater for the machine set up is very different to his Fireblade for the road racing season. Working on the set-up of the bike and making it feel like his own, the team and Johnston finished the test positive with over 100 laps of the 2.76-mile circuit completed. With lap times a second quicker than previous tests at the circuit, the team are ready to continue its testing programme later this month back on UK soil at Castle Combe.