Honda has previous history of working with Kalex, a German engineering company that is predominantly involved in Moto2 and whose chassis are used by the majority of the grid.
That provided the Japanese brand a lot of value, especially in terms of the information derived from it, even if the riders didn’t feel completely comfortable with the bike. Marquez, in fact, discarded the new chassis shortly after testing it, preferring to use the specification of the bike produced in-house by Honda.
However, Honda considers the signing of Baumgartel as a key to continue the progression that began at the Valencia test in November. Just a few days after the end of the 2023 season, Mir, Taakaki Nakagami and new recruits Luca Marini and Johann Zarco were able to test a completely new version of the bike planned for 2024.
The most notable difference on the 2024 spec bike, which was tested after the San Marino Grand Prix last year, is an overall weight loss of around eight kilos compared to the previous model.
This Tuesday, which marked the start of the first official pre-season test of the year, Baumgartel could already be seen dressed in HRC gear.
The addition of the German technician is in line with the strategy that both Japanese brands Honda and Yamaha have recently applied.
Historically reluctant to rely on elements from outside the borders of Japan for the most technically relevant roles, Yamaha signed Massimo from Ducati for 2024 as its new technical director. Previously, he had also recruited Marco Nicotra, again porached from the Borgo Panigale manufacturer, to give a boost to his aerodynamics division.
The arrival of Baumgartel at Honda, who in parallel with his new role will continue to be linked to his company Kalex in other projects, is an indication of the Tokyo manufacturer’s new-found willingness to change its approach.
With this recruitment, Honds wants to speed up the production of chassis and reduce the lead time between production and testing.
He will officially serve as a Technical Advisor and is contracted directly by HRC.