What you are looking at here is the bike that Honda hopes will win the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race this year. It is called the Honda CBR1000RRW.
It is not all that different from the WorldSBK-spec model, the one that Leon Camier and Jake Gange are competing with currently (and that PJ Jacobsen is helping develop), save for some interesting changes.
For starters, the Honda CBR1000RRW dumps its Cosworth boxes, and instead runs the Magneti Marelli electronics package that Jacobsen is using in WorldSBK.
Also, there are some obvious bodywork changes, namely where the exposed front spars of the frame would be, which are now covered by a silver painted panel.
Then of course, there are the mechanical changes for endurance duty, like quick-change wheel pieces and functional lights. Also note the Nissin brakes,
Showa Öhlins suspension, and Bridgestone tires (the FIM EWC is the last major series where there is competition also amongst the tire brands).
Before CBR1000RRW can race at Suzuka though, Honda will campaign the machine in the All Japan Superbike Championship, with Takumi Takahashi at the helm.
Takahashi-san will race at Suzuka as well, with two other teammates, who are still to be named, and likely will come from Honda’s MotoGP or WorldSBK racing efforts.
So far, Franco Morbidelli and Thomas Luthi have been tipped as being asked by Honda, but we are sure that Big Red sent out more feelers to other riders.
All of this boils down to the fact that the Suzuka 8-Hours is heating up for 2018, and we’re not talking about the sweltering heat that the endurance race is famous for.
Instead, we give a nod to the increased factory involvement that is coming to this prestigious race, as all of Japan’s motorcycle manufacturers are looking to make a victory in front of a home crowd.
That the Japanese OEMs would take Suzuka so seriously is no surprise. It wasn’t that long ago that factory riders in grand prix and superbike classes would have a clause in their contracts forcing them to race at Suzuka.
That hasn’t been the case as of late, but the historic race is making a come back, due in part by the dominance of teams that don’t draw their lineage back to Big Red.
Yamaha’s factory team has won the last three outings in a row…something that no other manufacturer, save for Honda, has been able to do. This year, we see Kawasaki also entering a direct-from-the-factory team, with Jonathan Rea leading the riding effort.
Honda has responded in kind with its own team, and there are rumors of increased factory support for some of the Suzuki-powered entries. All of this should make for a compelling race at the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours.
With the stakes getting higher, and prestige on the line, it will be curious to see how deep into Honda’s bench HRC is willing to go.
As such, it wouldn’t surprise us to see a certain Mr. Marc Marquez tapped for duty, though we still consider that a long-shot, at best.
Source: Honda Worldwide