Mcguinness rides his Blade it will be in anger at the North West

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - By Stephen Dav­i­son ROADS REPORTER

John Mcguinness com­pleted his fi­nal shake­down ses­sion on his new Honda Racing Fire­blade at Cas­tle Combe last week be­fore the start of the 2017 roads campaign. With prac­tice for the North West 200 be­gin­ning on May 10, the 23-times TT win­ner is now out of time to make any fur­ther de­vel­op­ment on the new CBR1000RR SP2 be­fore the in­ter­na­tional sea­son be­gins.

“Just be­fore I fell off at the last test day here I was happy with where we were with the bike,” the 45-year-old ex­plained. “We had found a good base set­ting and had some­thing to work off.”

The crash dur­ing Honda’s first Cas­tle Combe out­ing at the be­gin- ning of April left the More­cambe man un­con­scious and saw him dis­lo­cate his left thumb. Un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, it was Mcguinness’s sec­ond test crash af­ter he had slipped off dur­ing the Span­ish ses­sion at Mon­te­blanco.

“I’m older now and it takes me longer to bounce back and re­gain my con­fi­dence af­ter a crash,” he said as he un­veiled the team’s new 2017 liv­ery with team-mate Guy Martin.

Smooth and lin­ear

With the base set­ting in place Mcguinness said the team had made sig­nif­i­cant progress dur­ing the sec­ond two-day ses­sion.

De­spite the freez­ing tem­per­a­tures at the Wilt­shire cir­cuit, progress was made mar­ry­ing the Honda-sup­plied kit ig­ni­tion sys­tem to the SP2.

“Ev­ery­thing is about elec­tron­ics these days and there are a hel­luva lot of lights and warn­ings on the new dash that I don’t re­ally un­der­stand,” Mcguinness joked.

“The bike is de­cep­tive to ride. The new mo­tor is so smooth and lin­ear it feels eas­ier to ride, but doesn’t al­ways feel fast. But I am go­ing by the stop watch and I was do­ing 1m 5s laps around here on last year’s bike. I have done that again this year and it didn’t feel like I had my teeth in the fork yokes to do it.

“The en­gine feels strong and we have lifted the en­gine’s rpm to al­low the bike to make more power higher up the rev range.” Mcguinness ex­plained.

“You want to feel the en­gine is strong at the very top of it’s out­put and this mo­tor feels like it is.”

“I can rev this bike harder and we have moved up from 11,500rpm to 14,000rpm. The old bike didn’t like be­ing revved like that but the new en­gine feels safe do­ing it.”

Mcguinness ad­mits he has been re­luc­tant to change in the past what he knew was a win­ning set-up but the new speeds set at last year’s TT by Michael Dun­lop and Ian Hutchin­son on the Hawk and Tyco BMW S1000RR superbikes have forced a new ap­proach.

“We’ve won races, we’ve done the first 132mph laps but now we have to go faster.”

Stay­ing pos­i­tive

An­other change of di­rec­tion for the More­cambe man is the team’s shift to Oh­lins sus­pen­sion from the K-tech/ Showa kit he used in the past.

“Öh­lins ob­vi­ously don’t make bad stuff with all the world cham­pi­onships they have won and I could have moved over last sea­son but again I didn’t want to shift from what I knew,” he says.

“The Oh­lins crew are fan­tas­tic, they lis­ten to what I say and I have a great work­ing re­la­tion­ship with them. We try lots of com­bi­na­tions. We are work­ing our way through ev­ery­thing and I like the bal­ance of the bike now.”

Mcguinness says the im­prove­ment of the Honda Racing team’s BSB per­for­mances be­tween the first and sec­ond rounds at Don­ing­ton and Brands Hatch has been en­cour­ag­ing for the road race team. New parts and in­for­ma­tion from Ja­pan have helped too, but Mcguinness and team-mate Guy Martin both ad­mit they would have pre­ferred more time to de­velop the new bike.

“But I’m stay­ing pos­i­tive,” in­sisted Mcguinness. “It’s all about get­ting more laps re­ally, that’s the main prob­lem. Then again, some­one like Bruce An­stey will just jump on his bike and go fast! No­body re­ally knows how it’s go­ing to be un­til you get on it and go down Bray Hill for the first time.”

Mcguinness is de­ter­mined to re­main up­beat in spite of the crashes and de­lays.

“We have tried to get the new bike into the ball park if you like and then fine tune it as we go through prac­tice at the North West and TT,” he said.

“I think that is where we are. You don’t al­ways need the fastest bike out there but you do need the best in­fra­struc­ture around you and I think that is what we have. We have the Honda team, the Dun­lop tyres and the new Fire­blade so we won’t be far away.”

Look­ing good, but will the new Blade cut it at the TT?

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