HONDA RACING INFORMATION
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MCE INSURANCE BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 01 MONDAY APRIL 9 BRANDS HATCH
MICHAEL LAVERTY HEADS UP NEW LOOK SAMSUNG HONDA CHALLENGE
Michael Laverty spearheads the new-look Samsung Honda attack on this year’s MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship which opens on the short, fast Brands Hatch Indy circuit on Easter Monday 9 April.
The Ulsterman, who was in the frame for the crown last year with Yamaha, signed for the Louth based Honda team in close season and has quickly settled to the team’s Fireblade which is running to the new “back to basics” technical regulations, introduced to put the emphasis on close racing that is big on rider ability.
Laverty has posted strong performances in pre-event testing as has his team-mate Jon Kirkham, a race winner last term with Suzuki, who is relishing the challenges ahead.
They give the factory Honda team, who confirmed a two year sponsorship deal with Samsung Mobile two weeks before the start of the series, a formidable partnership to challenge for honours in a series that has a superb International array of talent lining up on the starting grid.
Among the World stars joining the BSB circuit is Noriyuki Haga who has signed up to ride alongside Yamaha’s reigning British champion Tommy Hill, while MotoGP exile Anthony West makes his debut riding a BMW. Former World Endurance Champion Freddy Foray is Kawasaki mounted while Alex Polita rides Ducati as does Saudi Arabian Abdulaziz Binladen.
Luca Scassa, a race winner in World Supersport, will be racing for the Padgetts Honda team alongside the capable Ulsterman Ian Lowry, but the team that could provide the surprises in the opening round is WFR Honda.
They ran strongly last year in what was known as the BSB-EVO class and the new regulations for this year are not too different from those. There is a single specification ECU engine management system, which effectively ends traction control, anti-wheelie and launch control systems.
Graeme Gowland, who came back strongly from injury, with class winning BSB-EVO rides last season to take the runner-up spot in that title race to his then team-mate Glen Richards, is back for more and has been consistently fast in testing.
Alex Lowes who won five of the first six races last year before leaving WFR is re-united with them and brimming with confidence as is the team’s third rider James Westmoreland. Adding to the Honda challenge are GB Moto duo of Tristan Palmer and Luke Quigley, while Jenny Tinmouth adds a touch of glamour to the action with her privately entered Fireblade.
The teams have two test sessions on Good Friday, ahead of official practice on Saturday with the grid deciding qualifying session for the opening race is on Easter Sunday afternoon. The two races are on Monday afternoon with grid for the second of them decided on the basis of fastest laps set by riders in the first.
HONDA RIDER COMMENTS:
Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda):
“I’m enjoying the bike, it has a nice power delivery and we are running a pretty good pace and with the new rules for this season we are there, or thereabouts. This bike and the one I rode last season are polar opposites and it took me two days to feel comfy, but then I was able to push the boundaries out. Last season I got in a position to be champion, but made a few errors, but I’ve matured enough to know what I have to do. Honda have confidence in me to do the job – it is good to be in the most successful team in the paddock. I am settled with them, the team are relaxed, know what they are doing and they have the experience that I can learn from.”
Jon Kirkham (Samsung Honda)
“It took a little time to dial into the bike, but we are there now. We have the best package and that is good as the new regulations for the series puts rider ability first. I am just looking forward now to getting out there and getting good results. The team around me is a friendly bunch and I settled with them straightaway. My targets are to be running up front and posing questions if I am not on the podium.”
Luca Scassa (Padgetts Racing)
“I followed this championship last year and the Showdown was really amazing, but now we have to make it even better. If the bike and me are good then we should be at the top as that is what it is all about. We have done a lot of testing, the team has a lot experience and everything is going good for us.”
Ian Lowry (Padgetts Racing)
“This bike is really nice to ride. It does what you want when it should and has good grip. I am not bothered one bit by the rule changes and no electronics. It is good that Luca has joined the team. It is always good to have a competitive team-mate to push you. We are both on the pace, are working hard. We share data. It is all good.”
Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda)
“The bike has changed quite a bit from last year. We have worked hard in testing and have a bit more power. I prefer to let my riding on the track do my talking, but if we keep working and riding as we did last year then there is no reason why we cannot be pushing for the title.”
Alex Lowes (WFR Honda)
“There is a good feel about the team and I’m looking forward to the opening round on the short Indy circuit. The bike is similar to that of last year when I won five out of six races and I need to start like that again, be consistent, concentrate and make no mistakes.”
James Westmoreland (WFR Honda)
“We’ve worked hard in testing, rode more than other teams, and improved the bike a lot so I am pretty confident that I can be on the podium and win races aiming to be in the Showdown by the end of the season. There is no reason why we can’t.”
Tristan Palmer (GB Moto)
“I have a really good feeling with the bike and I can't wait for the first round at Brands Hatch.”
Luke Quigley (GB Moto)
“I'm really pleased with the progress we’ve made. The bike feels great and we put in some long hours to get there. I'm really looking forward to Brands Hatch and getting out there with the full Superbike grid.”
Jenny Tinmouth (Two Wheel Racing)
“I’m not worried about the opposition, this is going to be fun in what is really a learning year for me.”
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