HONOS caused a bit of a stir on its Instagram feed last week when it showed a photo of a Ducati wrapped in HONOS branding with the caption: “Looking forward to 2021.” So, is the team that currently fields championship points leader Richie Escalante on a Kawasaki in the MotoAmerica Supersport Championship headed to the HONOS Superbike class in 2021?
“We are definitely thinking Superbike,” team principal Humberto Baca said today in the wet paddock of New Jersey Motorsports Park prior to tomorrow’s start of round six of the MotoAmerica Series. “I think the owner of HONOS was just a little bit excited with the Ducati that he just picked up. That was more his personal bike for himself to ride in Mexico and not here. Ducati is not something that we are thinking about for next year.”
Okay, so no Ducati, but what about making the switch to the HONOS Superbike Series in 2021. Apparently, that’s a big YES.
“The brands we are thinking about for next year, and there are only two, are Kawasaki and Aprilia,” Baca said. “Those are the two we are looking at for Superbike.”
Baca says that a Kawasaki program would also include Graves Motorsports, the Chuck Graves-owned company that has played a big role in the success of HONOS’ Supersport program this year with Richie Escalante and the Kawasaki ZX6R.
“Absolutely,” Baca said when asked about whether Graves would be involved in a Kawasaki Superbike program. “With the Graves program and Superbike, that is also something we hope Kawasaki could get involved in and that all depends on the rules and regulations in Superbike over the next few years. That has a lot to do with it.”
To make a move to Aprilia, it would also take a commitment from the manufacturer.
“With Aprilia we would want technical support, bikes, parts… if we can get good manufacturer support, that’s something we can entertain,” Baca said.
Whatever the manufacturer, the one component that won’t change is one of the riders: Escalante. But the plan calls for a second rider and one with more experience than Escalante, who would be making his big-bike debut in 2021 if the deal comes together.
“Absolutely, Richie,” Baca said. “It could be Richie and Toni (Elias). The other riders that we’ve been thinking about and looking into are Josh Herrin and one that would be great to have back in America would be Garrett (Gerloff) if he doesn’t have a two-year contract and feels he needs to come back.”
Baca is confident in Escalante’s abilities and doesn’t think the move to the premier class would be anything less than successful for the youngster.
“I think Richie would do well with a Superbike and with an experienced racer as a teammate,” Baca said. “That could go a long way. We know the first year is a feel year and a testing ground for him. We wouldn’t expect anything as far as him battling for podiums, but could we expect him to be in the battle from fourth to sixth, fourth through seventh… it wouldn’t surprise us. I think he can adapt well. He hasn’t ridden 1000s much, very little with some seat time on a 1000 in Mexico and I think only one track day for a few sessions. He’s got a good riding style, he’s very focused and I think he would adapt well. He adapts well to change, which we saw this year with moving to the Kawasaki. He adapted to the bike and didn’t adapt the bike to himself so I think with the 1000 he would be able to do the same thing and adapt to that style of riding.”