Honda’s verdict on Kalex MotoGP chassis’ long-awaited debut

The public debut of the Kalex-built Honda MotoGP chassis has received a tentatively positive reaction from both team manager Alberto Puig and rider Joan Mir, albeit Mir’s time with it was cut short.

The highly anticipated chassis from the German manufacturer, which has been the defining force in MotoGP’s main support series in Moto2, has been hyped as a potential cure for all that ails Honda. And there’s plenty wrong for the Japanese factory at the minute, especially on Mir’s side of the garage, with the 2020 world champion racking up five crashes at Jerez across this Spanish Grand Prix weekend and the Monday post-race test – the same number as during his entire title-winning season.

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However, whether it’s enough to make a substantial difference for him remains to be seen, with Mir able to give only the barest of feedback compared to that of test rider Stefan Bradl, who spent most of Monday using the new frame as part of Honda’s initial set-up work with it.

And while Bradl didn’t face the media on Monday, Puig told the manufacturer had liked what it’d heard and seen.

“It’s true that it’s very early to make a clear statement because we need more time. But, for now, the vibes are positive,” said Puig.

“But of course we need more time because only Stefan could test it and we would like other riders to also give their opinion on it. But first inputs are good.”

The Jerez test would’ve been a prime opportunity for Marc Marquez to sample the chassis but Marquez remains sidelined through injury. And Mir’s time with it didn’t go quite according to plan – with Bradl crashing the bike earlier in the day, further limiting Mir’s available mileage with the Kalex version even before his run came to an abrupt end.

“I only made one lap because I had an electrical problem with the bike,” Mir explained afterwards. “In the exit of Turn 5, I had my teeth on the dashboard!

“We had this problem, I could only make one lap, and it’s difficult to take any conclusion. Can be positive, can be, but we must try in a better way, not like this.

“Stefan was happy. Obviously the riding style of Stefan is a little different, and I’m sure that this bike is different – you could feel that on the outlap. It felt a little bit different, but I don’t know if it’s faster and this is what we have to know.”

Joan Mir Honda MotoGP Jerez

The good news, though, is that even Mir’s limited-mileage feedback suggests the chassis might bring positives in the exact direction that it seems Honda most needs them right now – in terms of what the rider feels from the tyres while on board it.

“You understand that the concept is a little bit different, you know?” he said. “You have feedback, probably more feedback on what’s happening from the wheels. But that’s it, and I probably can’t say so much because in one lap, warming up the tyres, it’s not the proper way to speak about it.”

Mir also suggested that there was little chance of riding the bike at the next round of the championship in Le Mans, something that suggests that it will instead remain in the hands of Bradl for further development.

The arrival of the new machine – and its abortive spin out in the hands of Mir – may well have spread further discord within the Honda camp, too, with Mir’s former Suzuki team-mate Alex Rins sounding somewhat unamused that he too wasn’t extended the same chance to test the new frame.

The LCR Honda racer, who took the factory’s only victory of the season to date during the third round of the championship at the Circuit of the Americas, admitted after a busy day that saw him trying out five different aero packages that he’d been under the impression that neither he nor Mir would get the chance to test it even in the absence of the injured Marquez.

“I was quite surprised,” he admitted, “because originally they said to me that only Stefan is going to test the new frame, the new chassis. I heard in the TV broadcasters area that Joan also tried but unluckily the bike stopped. I was quite surprised to hear this.”


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