The success of the golden wing brand in the National Speed Championship is long and full, with more than 20 titles conquered, by the hands of several pilots in all classes. Just over a decade ago, Honda was represented with clear chances of disputing the victories, before plunging into a deafening “silence” that lasted until 2022.
Inscribed with the colours of the RL58 Performance, the BricoMarché de Santo André and the dealership representing the Japanese manufacturer, Jomotos, the motorcycle ridden by Ricardo Lopes made its much-anticipated debut on the Portuguese circuits, with four climbs to the podium, two of them in the highest! Given the circumstances of the international scenario, as far as the pandemic and conflict in Ukraine are concerned, the entire project saw its timings necessarily changed, in view of the delays in the delivery of raw materials for the preparation and development of the new Honda CBR 1000 RR Fireblade, including itself.
With the passage mark for the second half of the competition season, it was time for the Alentejo team to receive its Fireblade, dedicating itself to its preparation for the two final dates of the 2022 calendar. The RL58 BricoMarché Honda bike was ready to face the competition at the Estoril Circuit. The feedback from the pilot and the technical manager of the project, Pedro Mendes, after the first test and training sessions in the penultimate CNV Moto race of the year, was quite positive.
Not only was the rider and team’s ability to adapt to the bike proven, but also its quality, as well as the speed with which good times were recorded on the track, with a clear margin for progression. Thus, the first stone was laid for a project that would experience glory in 2022, after its debut. Upon arrival in Portimão for the final round of the year, the team quickly found its rhythm, with good times being set and which would end up taking Honda to pole position, in qualifying for the first race.
The first race would be nerve-wracking for the RL58 BricoMarché Honda, with Ricardo Lopes suffering a crash at turn 1 when leading the race in difficult conditions, with rain being present throughout the 15 laps that made up the race. Lopes returned to the track further down the classification, he didn’t give up and went in search of the best possible position. To everyone’s amazement, Lopes not only resumed the race but recovered the lost positions, returning to command the Superbike, to win with more than six seconds of the difference!
Sunday the day started with the second qualifying session, to determine the starting grid of the second race, the last of the season. Weather conditions improved significantly on the Mexilhoeira Grande track and Ricardo Lopes maintained, with his team, the same strategy of caution and evolution of the new CBR 1000, taking second place on the grid. In the second race, all eyes were on Lopes and what he could do with his new machine.
The 15 laps of racing went more positively than the day before for bike #58, with Ricardo closely following the leader for much of the race. On the tenth lap, Lopes took the lead and did not start again during the final five laps, beating Romeu Leite with a second lead. The quality and capacity of the team were thus proven, which once again placed Honda in a prominent position, with two historic victories that reveal the project’s full potential, which will continue in 2023.
Ricardo Lopes #58
“After our passage through the penultimate race of the year in Estoril, where we finished both races in second place, we left for Portimão very motivated and with great expectations. We knew we were going to be strong, even though we had never ridden the bike there. After the base we got in Estoril, there was a certain feeling of confidence that the race could go in our favour.
Even though the layout was completely different, after the first few laps we confirmed our expectations, the feeling was good and the times were promising. There was still a lot of work to be done, such as small adjustments to my position on the bike, we looked first and foremost for comfort, while slowly testing new solutions in terms of suspensions and electronics.
The first qualifying couldn’t have gone better, we took pole position! We left for the first race even more optimistic, but the conditions weren’t easy, with rain in some parts of the track. Unfortunately, I had a crash in Turn 1, lucky I didn’t suffer major damage to the bike or injuries. I resumed the race further back and tried to recover as much as possible. I quickly found my rhythm and started to recover positions, until I was back in command of the race, which we won with more than six seconds of advantage!
Sunday the day was much better and we kept the spirit of the first day. We were second on the grid after qualifying 2. We got off to a good start and I followed the leader closely for ten laps. When I felt it was time to attack, I moved to the front of the race and tried to find my rhythm. I always felt very safe and loved every lap on this bike. I managed to win again which makes us very happy and proud of our work and commitment. We are ready to win in 2023!
I want to thank all the sponsors, the whole team and especially my coach, Pedro Mendes, for all the work and confidence in me. Step by step we have evolved since the first test and we know we have what it takes to win in 2023. Above all, we now understand the quality of the Honda and the margin of progression that lies ahead.”