The Japanese automaker has had a smooth start to the second season with its WSBK squad in full control and with the latest generation Fireblade CBR1000RR-R introduced last year.
In the first two rounds of the season in Aragon and Estoril, Honda’s best results were a pair of seventh places for Bautista, while teammate Leon Haslam clocked a better eighth place.
He leaves the pair 11th and 12th respectively in the drivers ‘standings, while Honda occupies fifth and last place in the constructors’ standings, already 17 points behind fourth-placed BMW.
Speaking after finishing seventh in Sunday’s second long distance race at Estoril, Bautista admitted that the improvements to the Fireblade had fallen short of expectations and that it was impossible to identify a main area on which the Japanese brand could work.
“Honestly, I expected more improvement [from last season]”said the Spaniard.” In the winter testing the feeling was not too bad and I expected a better feel and better performance.
“We have a lot of trouble with the electronics, with the traction, to make a bike with more stability throughout the race, in all conditions. You have to be very precise or you lose. [time] because the bicycle works differently. It’s very complicated.
“We have to improve in all areas. We do not miss [anything] big in one area, we just lose in small things everywhere. The whole bike needs to improve. It is difficult to find anything that can help us take a step forward. “
He added: “I think at the moment the results don’t show the real performance, but the maximum we can do is the top five.”
Bautista’s weekend at Estoril got off to a rocky start as he crashed three times in Friday’s two practice sessions, something he attributed to the use of the hard-rubber front tire.
He ended up qualifying in 18th place as he was one of many riders to lose their fastest laps to yellow flags, although he recovered to complete Saturday’s opening race eighth before continuing with 10th in the Superpole race and seventh in the final.
“Crashing three times for no reason, you lack confidence,” Bautista said. “Then on Saturday I started to recover, but we saw the yellow flag at the first corner [during qualifying] and they canceled my tour so I had to start from 18th instead of 12th.
“[In the Superpole Race] I missed ninth place by one place, if I had finished ninth I could have had a good race two [starting ninth], but I started again from the back and it was more difficult with the temperature [compared to Saturday]. I felt a lot less grip, especially up front.
“In a normal situation I could have fought for a top five, but with this qualifying rule we missed the opportunity to stay further ahead. My lap time is close to the leading guys, but when you lose seven seconds on the first lap, your race is over. “
Bautista also denied that Honda’s current MotoGP struggles distract Asakadai from its goal of winning a first WSBK title since James Toseland’s triumph in 2007.
“For [Honda] both championships are very important, ”said the former 125cc champion. “I don’t think we are doing badly here as they are only focusing on MotoGP.
“We have good support from the HRC, but it’s very difficult… even in MotoGP they are struggling.”