The FIM Superbike World Championship (SBK) is the premier category for production bikes. 2021 was Honda’s second season since its return to the series as a factory team, Team HRC.
The team’s CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE SP riders from 2020, Álvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam, continued to represent the team. Leon Camier, SBK rider until 2020, took over as team manager.
In 2020, Bautista finished third in Round 4 Race 2, giving Honda its first podium since its return to SBK. In the closing stages, both team riders consistently finished in the top five. Team HRC’s performance in 2021 was starting to look good.
Good results in early rounds despite tight schedule
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 SBK season started three months later than usual, in Motorland Aragon on May 12 - 23. Round 2 in Estoril, Portugal, was only a week later.
In Round 2 Race 1, Team HRC’s Bautista finished eighth from an 18th grid start, and at one point during the race was seventh.
In Round 3, Emilia Romagna, Bautista was sixth in Race 1, while Haslam was sixth in Round 4, Donington Park Race 1, followed by fourth place in the superpole, his best season finish. Both Honda riders were gaining momentum, closing in on podium finishes.
Bautista regular podium contender in second half of the season
As the season passed the halfway mark, both riders were frustrated despite consistently gaining championship points.
For the first time, Navarra in Spain was added to the SBK calendar as Round 7. Bautista crashed in Race 1, followed by Haslam in Race 2. “It’s been a tough weekend, for both me and Alvaro really,” commented Haslam post-race, his frustration obvious.
Team HRC nonetheless persevered, improving their performance. In Round 9, Catalunya, Bautista finished third in the superpole, his season’s best result. He was also fourth in Race 2, saying the results were “a well-deserved reward for the non-stop work the team and engineers are doing.”
One week later in Jeres, Bautista started Race 1 from ninth place to finish fifth. In Race 2, he consistently overtook other riders from his 8th grid spot, earning himself a podium by finishing third.
In Round 11 at the Algarve International Circuit, Haslam fininshed the superpole third, placing him on the front row for the first time this season. He finished the hilly race with many blindspots in fifth place. Bautista had qualified sixth, and although he was in contention for a third place finish, he crashed and retired on the final lap.
Factory team finished second season without a win
In Round 12, both riders overcame problems to score championship points. For Haslam, who would miss the final round due to recovery from an operation on his right shoulder, Round 12 would be his last race for Team HRC. He finished the 2021 season in 13th place.
Bautista race in the final round in Indonesia. In difficult conditions after heavy rain, Bautista accumulated points in both races 1 and 2, ending his final season with Team HRC in 10th place overall.
In 2022, Team HRC will have new riders, and will continue on its path to victory that Bautista and Haslam have helped to create.
|1||Toprak RAZGATLIOĞLU||54||PATA Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK||Yamaha||564|
|2||Jonathan REA||1||Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK||Kawasaki||551|
|3||Scott REDDING||45||ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati||Ducati||501|
|4||Andrea LOCATELLI||55||PATA Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK||Yamaha||291|
|5||Michael RUBEN RINALDI||21||ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati||Ducati||282|
|6||Michael VAN DER MARK||60||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team||BMW||262|
|7||Garrett GERLOFF||31||GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team||Yamaha||228|
|8||Alex LOWES||22||Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK||Kawasaki||213|
|9||Axel BASSANI||47||Motocorsa Racing||Ducati||210|
|10||Álvaro BAUTISTA||19||Team HRC||Honda||195|
|11||Tom SYKES||66||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team||BMW||184|
|12||Chaz DAVIES||7||Team GoEleven||Ducati||143|
|13||Leon HASLAM||91||Team HRC||Honda||134|
|14||Kohta NOZANE||3||GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team||Yamaha||64|
|15||Loris BAZ||11||Team GoEleven||Ducati||53|
|16||Tito RABAT||53||Kawasaki Puccetti Racing||Kawasaki||53|
|17||Isaac VIÑALES||32||Orelac Racing VerdNatura||Kawasaki||45|
|18||Lucas MAHIAS||44||Kawasaki Puccetti Racing||Kawasaki||44|
|19||Eugene LAVERTY||50||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team||BMW||40|
|20||Christophe PONSSON||23||Gil Motor Sport-Yamaha||Yamaha||36|
|21||Leandro MERCADO||36||MIE Racing HONDA Team||Honda||33|
|22||Jonas FOLGER||94||Bonovo MGM Racing||BMW||21|
|23||Samuele CAVALIERI||76||Barni Racing Team||Ducati||16|
|24||Marvin FRITZ||17||IXS-YART Yamaha||Yamaha||6|
|25||Loris CRESSON||84||OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing||Kawasaki||3|
|27||Luke MOSSEY||12||OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing||Kawasaki||2|