With two of the world’s fastest riders aboard its CBR1000RR SP Fireblade superbikes – John McGuinness and Conor Cummins – Honda Racing wrapped up testing ahead of the first race on the international road racing calendar, the North West 200 (May 10-14).McGuinness, who has 23 Isle of Man TT wins, just three shy of record-holder Joey Dunlop, and Cummins completed the test at a cold Castle Combe in Wiltshire, England. Between rain and snow showers, both riders worked closely with Dunlop, testing various compounds, and also finely-tuned their CBR’s electronics and suspension.
Honda reports that the bumpy nature of the 1.85-mile Castle Combe provides the perfect testing ground for races like the North West 200, the world’s fastest road races hosted on the 8.970-mile course that forms a triangle between the Northern Irish coastal towns of Coleraine, Portrush and Portstewart.McGuiness not only earned his 23rd TT victory at the 2015 Isle of Man TT, but also set a new outright Senior lap record of 132.701mph. As for the North West 200, McGuinness has six wins there – the record is 15 shared by the late Robert Dunlop and the man who dominated three races last season, Alastair Seeley. Cummins has never won at the North West 200, but had earned the Superbike podium last season.The 2016 North West 200 takes place in two weeks time May 10-14. Both McGuinness and Cummins will compete for Honda Racing in the two Superbike races on Saturday, May 14.John McGuinness says: “It has been a really solid test this week we had a few things to work through, which we managed and it’s all been really positive. It’s the same CBR I love and adore, but we can’t stand still as the competition is really strong so we have to make a few small changes here and there so we’re ready.“I’m feeling great at the moment and I’ve been faster here than ever before, so feeling really confident. I’ve got a great package with the team, the CBR and there’s no reason not to bring any trophies home this year. We’ve worked closely with Dunlop and they brought a new tire for us to test, which was a massive step so I’m hugely confident in what they’re offering. I’m leaving here in a good place and can’t wait to get going now at the North West!”Conor Cummins says: “I’ve really enjoyed the last two days and being back on the Fireblade again, it’s a great bike and always brings a smile to my face. We had quite a bit to work through over the test with different settings for the electronics, engine and also the suspension but I’m leaving here quietly confident with what we’ve achieved, and just can’t wait to get racing now.“I’m in a happy state of mind and confident in the package for this year; I’ve got a great team behind me and a fantastic machine, so I can’t ask for anymore. We’ve also worked with Dunlop over the days and testing numerous tyre compounds and I am full of confidence with what they’re offering.”Neil Tuxworth says: “We have again enjoyed an excellent two-day test at Castle Combe; we have been very lucky with the weather conditions as generally there has been a lot of rain in the area and on the last day, we saw the rain clouds come over, but thankfully went past us. We’ve had enough dry time over the days to complete a series of tests on various items, to both improve and develop our machines for the forthcoming North West 200 and Isle of Man TT races, and I am pleased to say that both John and Conor have been very happy with the outcome of this test and we’re all looking forward now to the North West.”
Honda Racing John McGuinness and Conor Cummins Photo Gallery
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!