CW 5Q: Danny Walker, Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda Team Principal

An interview with the former racer who is helping bring Honda back to Superbike competition in America

Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda CBR1000RR SP2
According to American Honda’s Mike Snyder, the tipping point for Honda’s participation this season in the MotoAmerica Series is the 2017 CBR1000RR SP2, a built-for-racing homologation special. Ten Kate Racing will use the very same machine in World Superbike competition with riders Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl.Courtesy of Honda

Honda is officially returning to the American road-racing scene with the Wayne Rainey-led MotoAmerica Series. On Thursday afternoon at Honda headquarters in Torrance, California, Roadrace Factory principal Danny Walker unveiled a long-in-the-works project that will see his team—now officially known as Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda—campaign a 2017 CBR1000RR SP2 in the premier Superbike class. Former MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 Champion Jake Gagne will race the four-cylinder machine at all 10 rounds of the series. I asked Walker about the new project.

1. What was the genesis for this new Superbike program?

We’ve been talking with Honda for a couple of years. It really started with a conversation in the fall of 2015 at AIMExpo between Mike Snyder from American Honda and Wayne Rainey and Chuck Aksland from MotoAmerica. Wayne and Chuck wanted to get American Honda back in the series.

I have known Mike for years. We tried to put a deal together to run Hondas in 2016, but it was way too late and would have cost a lot of money for bikes that were competitive. We decided to wait. We got our new bikes about a week and a half ago, so now we’re wide open sending stuff all over the world.

Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda CBR1000RR SP2
Next stop, Circuit of The Americas: “Two hours after the crate hit the ground, the bike was down to the frame and motor,” said Roadrace Factory’s Danny Walker. “We hope to soon have a firm commitment from Ten Kate as far as when stuff will be available. We’re already building our own clip-ons, triple-clamps, and suspension links.”Courtesy of Honda

2. What level of support is Honda providing? Is this a factory effort?

This is not an in-house factory deal, but it is similar to what Ten Kate currently has in World Superbike. We get bikes, parts, monetary compensation, and technical support from Honda. Because bikes are hard to come by right now, we will only have Jake in Superbike.

We have a multi-year deal with Honda. Our plan is to expand the team for 2018. The talk right now is to have two Superbike guys and a Superstock 1000 rider. Maybe we will be able to provide a bike or technical support for others guys, as well. We already have triple-clamps and rearsets designed and ready to be made.

I am over the moon to be a part of Honda coming back into racing in the US. In the past, that pie was so small and everybody was trying to take a chunk off it. It just wasn’t healthy. We never would have been successful without the support we got from Yamaha, but that program couldn’t go any further than where it was, and neither could we.

Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda CBR1000RR SP2
Gagne and Hayden connection: "Jake and Nicky are both dirt guys," said Walker. "In 1992, I built the two-strokes that Nicky and Tommy rode for Moto Liberty, so I've known them a long, long time. American Honda has a relationship with Nicky and that program. We're hoping we can get some advice."Courtesy of Honda

3. Broaster Chicken has supported Roadrace Factory in the past. How has that relationship evolved?

Originally, the support that we had from Broaster Chicken was regional. Kirk Reuille is a large distributor for Broaster Chicken. He has been around the sport for quite a while and sponsored Martin Cardenas and Dane Westby. This year, they went to the corporate level, Genuine Broaster Chicken, through CEO Jay Cipra.

Kirk is excited. American Honda is excited. We’re excited. There are a bunch of different marketing avenues. Last year, we did a dozen life-size Jake Gagne cutouts. This year, we’re doing 500 for their convenience store locations in the Midwest. Conservatively, those things are going to get 450,000 views a day. Those are some pretty big impressions.

We’ve got some other folks that we’ve had contact with in the past who are now more excited about possibly being a part of our deal. It’s a big challenge. Genuine Broaster Chicken helps to show that you can get in at reasonable number and generate pretty big exposure.

Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda CBR1000RR SP2
Walker understands that it will take time to figure the new CBR1000RR SP2 out, but says that, "We’re going to be disappointed if we’re not consistently in the hunt for the podium—not just a flash every now and then—by the end of the season."Courtesy of Honda

4. MotoAmerica has made significant changes to its Superbike technical rules, further aligning the class with World Superbike. How far have you progressed with bike development?

We have already had several conversations with Honda Motor Europe. They’re busy, too, but they’ve been really helpful. Honda has multiple meetings during the year at different places, and all of the teams that race Hondas are invited to take part in those conferences. They share information and technical support.

We have been assured support from Ten Kate and HRC for development on everything from camshafts to swingarms. Hopefully, all of that will be available in time so that we can utilize it. They've had their bikes three weeks and we've had ours for a week and a half. Jake has a stock CBR1000RR that he will be able to ride, as well.

When we started our team in 2012, every meeting we had, I was always like, “Hey, guys, let’s work up to this. We don’t have to come in here with a big, old flash—boom!” That was the problem we had last year. We came in guns blazing because we felt we needed to be running up front in Superbike.

We jumped in deep with all of the electronics and other issues we had, and it bit us in the ass. What has worked for us in the past is to slowly work our way up, so that when we get there, we are competitive. It’s hard for me to convince Jake and our crew that, hey, we don’t have any business winning right now. Let’s work up to this.

Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda CBR1000RR SP2
The Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda team has been assured support from Ten Kate and HRC for development on everything from camshafts to swingarms.Courtesy of Honda

5. What are your ultimate goals for this season?

I think we’re going to come out of the gate struggling a little bit. It’s a new bike, so I’m not expecting big results right off the bat. We’re going to be disappointed if we’re not consistently in the hunt for the podium—not just a flash every now and then—by the end of the season. Then, we’ll see if we can fight for a championship in 2018.

Now, I know if you ask Jake or his crew chief, Scott Jensen, that same question, that’s not the answer they are going to give you. But, like I said, it’s my job to put on the brakes. We didn’t really want to go Superstock racing anymore. We did that. We didn’t want to race 600s anymore. We did that. We felt we needed to be in the premier class.

I believe there is no way you can be competitive in Superbike unless you have direct technical support from a factory. Obviously, we didn’t have that, and we paid the price. The way they have the rules set up, running the same rules as World Superbike, you’ve got to have a manufacturer in your corner helping you drive that technical side.

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