Honda Endurance Racing riders Julien Da Costa, Freddy Foray and Sébastien Gimbert completed a two-day test at the Castellet, France ahead of the Suzuka 8 Hours, which will take place on 26 July and in preparation for the Bol d’Or, which will take place at the Paul Ricard circuit 19-20 September.
This two-day test at Le Castellet was the team’s first time riding at the Paul Ricard circuit. Honda Endurance Racing was able to collect a lot of new data that will be used in order to improve the bike’s setup on this circuit before the next pre-Bol d’Or test in early September.
The team was blessed with sunny and warm weather during the two testing days, allowing them to work in close conjunction with Dunlop on the tyre selection and to pursue their race strategy on fuel consumption with the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP.
In addition to this test and as an extension of the team’s testing strategy for 2015, Honda Endurance Racing is currently looking into the possibility of taking part to the 24 Hours of Catalunya at the Circuit de Barcelona on 11-12 July. This race is not included in the Endurance World Championship calendar, but would provide the team with the great opportunity of more valuable track time in the conditions of a 24-hour race. Furthermore, the Circuit de Barcelona is a track where the forecast is usually very warm and would help the team to acclimatise to the heat they will likely experience in Suzuka.
Honda’s endurance specialists leave the Paul Ricard circuit positive and looking forward to the next Endurance World Championship round on 26 July in Japan.
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For Honda Endurance Racing, these two days were very positive – we were discovering this track for the first time so the team was starting from scratch. We were able to test everything that we had planned to test and even a bit more; we were then able to find a few parts that we reworked on and optimised on the bike. During the pre-season test we found that our strong point was on fuel consumption, and this was confirmed in Le Mans, so we also made the most of this test to continue developing our race strategy for the championship.
Julien Da Costa
This track was all new for the team, so we first had to find our base setup, which is something we usually don’t have to do. As soon as the team will get back from Le Castellet, they will continue to work on improving the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP in order to make it even more adapted to endurance races. On the racing side, we are not yet lapping at the front, but we already have good average lap times, so we leave the Paul Ricard circuit with quite high feelings after these two positive testing days.
The two main points to bear in mind after these two days are that the bike performs very well on this track for a very first test, and also that my teammates and I are once again very close to each other in our lap times – which is one of our strong points as a team in terms of consistency in race conditions. It was really important for the team to come to this test and discover the track in order to build something solid and stable for the Bol d’Or in September.
The last time I raced on this track was in 1999, at the last edition of the Bol d’Or at the Paul Ricard circuit, so it was a real pleasure for me to be back on this track, which is suiting my riding style very well. This already makes me feel optimistic for the race that will be like a ‘home race’ for me.
After what we went through in Le Mans, it was a real satisfaction to get back on track and discover a new circuit – especially the Le Castellet circuit that is legendary with its 1.8km Mistral straight. This is only May and there is still a long way to go before the Bol d’Or race, but this test allowed us to discover the track and to collect the first pieces of data that will be necessary to build up the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP for the next pre-Bol d’Or test.
The team’s motivation is strong and we can feel that they are doing their best to stack all the odds in our favour, so it is really encouraging for everybody.
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