Honda (UK) is pleased to announce its dynamic rider line-up for the 2012 British Superbike Championship, with Michael Laverty and Jon Kirkham on the CBR1000RR Fireblade in the Superbike class, joined by Gary Johnson and the returning Jason O’Halloran in the Superstock series.
The new pairing of Laverty and Kirkham provides the Honda Racing team with great fresh blood and talent, both of whom have displayed both prowess and potential in the British Superbike Championship during 2011, with the ability to excel even further.
Both O’Halloran and Johnson have a solid history with Superstock racing; TT star Johnson has been a regular front runner in both British Supersport and Superstock over the years, while O’Halloran was showing incredible promise at the start of 2011 - before injury forced him to sit out the rest of the season – and now returns fighting fit with a view to finishing what he started.
Laverty, a former British Supersport Champion and front runner in the Superbike class over recent years said, “It is an exciting prospect for me to be joining Honda for 2012. It was unexpected and it is always a difficult decision to move teams, especially as we had such a good season this year. I was fortunate to have options and I have gone from one championship winning team to another; everyone knows that Honda have the history in BSB and we are really looking forward now to next season. I think the change with the rules has played a part in my decision to join Honda. You can see from Evo this season that the Honda chassis and engine was so strong and delivers useable power which will be so important next year Next season for sure is going to be interesting and I think we start in a great position. The calibre of Honda and the Fireblade is high and we know we have big potential to fight for the title.”
New team-mate Kirkham, the 2010 British Superstock Champion and Superbike race winner in 2011 said, “It is absolutely fantastic for me to be joining the official Honda team as they are well established and the most successful team in the BSB paddock. I really do believe they the package to beat with the new technical regulations as you could see how strong the Honda Fireblade was in the Evo championship last season, and the new for 2012 ‘Blade looks set to be even stronger. 2011 was an up and down season for me so next year I just want to concentrate on my riding and getting the Honda up the front where we want and need to be. I want to be consistently ‘up there’. This season I have proved I can be, so I now need to do that every race and with the Honda team I believe that is totally possible. I have my own expectations; I am sure everyone does, but I definitely want to exceed them next year. I have never been so excited about a season as I am about 2012 and I just want to get started now.”
Johnson commented, “It’s great to be joining such a successful team and I can’t wait to get on the new Fireblade, get testing and the get the new racing season underway. I think Jason and I will also be good for each other in that we’ll push each other, and I’m just looking forward to getting back to racing and also the whole team environment at Honda Racing which I know will be hard working but also good fun.”
O’Halloran concluded, “We started the season really strong this year and everything with the team and the Fireblade was spot on, so to have had to take almost five months out to recover from my accident was frustrating. Being able to get back on the bike for the final few rounds was a great help and I now feel well recovered, fighting fit and definitely ready to get back out there and finish what I started this year – which is to win the Superstock title.”
Team Manager Havier Beltran said, “We are very happy to announce these four riders who bring a great mix of different talents and personalities to the team. All four have great natural racing ability and proven credentials, but all of them also very much have the potential to go even further and have things they want to prove in their respective championships. With this combination, coupled with the new regulations and the new 2012 CBR1000RR Fireblade, we are injecting some great new energy into our racing operation and we will continue to be a force to be reckoned with next season.”
All four riders will be contesting their respective British championships in 2012 on the CBR1000RR Fireblade which celebrates its 20th anniversary since conception of this iconic machine and racing legend back in 1992.
The team’s UK based winter testing programme starts in earnest in early 2012, ahead of the first race of the season from 7-9 April at Brands Hatch, Kent (Bank Holiday Monday race day), and all four riders will be out of the UK until the new year to benefit from warmer weather training or to catch up with friends and family.