Q&A with Carlo Fiorani
Meet Carlo Fiorani, racing operations manager for Honda Motor Europe.
Q: The return of an iconic WSBK title sponsor, Castrol, in WSBK racing with Honda; echoes of a successful past and hopes for a good future?
A: First of all, Castrol was the first sponsor of Honda, way back in 1959, at the TT races, so the technical partnership with Castrol has been constant. All the racing history of Honda has come with Castrol, but the new Castrol Honda sponsorship is very welcome and it is nice for us to come back to our roots. There have been many, many successes with the previous Castrol Honda team in World Superbike.
Q: Ten Kate is your main WSBK team again, but what is the ‘x’ factor Ten Kate brings to competition at this level?
A: We started our co-operation with Ten Kate way back in the early years of the millennium, when they were one of our three satellite teams in Supersport. We could not imagine then that in a few years Ten Kate would have such huge results. Together with them we took eight titles in World Supersport, always together with Castrol, and one title with James Toseland in Superbike. The relationship between Honda Motor Europe and Ten Kate is quite special, thanks to the results and thanks to the unique exchange of technical information. In the panorama of racing motorcycles the Ten Kate team is unique, as it works like a family. Other teams work only together on weekends, but these guys stay together all week, all year around, and all live in the same area of the Netherlands.
Q: The rider choices are very interesting again this year, how was the final rider line-up arrived at?
A: Jonathan was already signed for 2011 and he represents young riders. He is a very bright talent and we are ready to make a big step forward for him. On the other hand Ruben is one of the most experienced riders in the paddock. He has ridden for many different brands and he has huge experience. Everybody knows him as an aggressive rider, a very brave rider, so we can see that we have a combination of a younger rider and an experienced rider, which normally always works well. We are, in some ways, replaying the combination of youth and experience we had with Jonathan and Carlos Checa.
Q: Competition will be tough again in WSBK in 2011, with no fewer than seven competing manufacturers. How important is it for Honda to be seen to be competing well in such a competitive series?
A: All Honda’s DNA is based on racing. All our Supersport machines have come about because of our racing experience, so it is natural for Honda to compete in World Superbike. The fact that it is a very tough championship is good for us because it shows the potential and the value of our machines. We like this formula, as Superbike racing is a very good bench test for production machines. And in the past few years, thanks to racing, we have applied some features of our racing bikes in our production bikes. This is not like a slogan; it is a reality.
Q: Where does WSBK fit into Honda’s overall promotional and race activity plans?
A: World Superbike is related to production machines and good results in World Superbike means good promotion around the world. That also goes for racing CBR models in domestic championships, because Superbike is very important for promoting real production machines. But only World Superbike does that on a truly global level.