Honda finally ends speculation on Jonathan Rea's future, announcing that he will be the lynchpin of the Ten Kate team in 2013 with Leon Haslam as his team mate, riding the aged Honda Fireblade in Pata colours for its last year of racing. Rumours of a full-time MotoGP ride next year are well and truly crushed with this announcement, but with talk of a V4 Honda replacing the Fireblade for 2014, Rea's input into making it competetive will earn him even more goodwill at HRC.
The full text of the press releases from both Honda and BMW follow:
Honda announces comprehensive changes for 2013
Honda has announced its plans for the 2013 World Superbike and World Supersport championships, which include a new four-rider line-up, a comprehensive technical development and testing programme and a new title sponsor.
In the World Superbike championship, current rider Jonathan Rea has signed with the team once more and will team-up with fellow Briton Leon Haslam on the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. In the World Supersport championship, Italian Lorenzo Zanetti will ride Honda’s CBR600RR alongside Michael van der Mark from the Netherlands.
Italian snack manufacturer Pata is the new title sponsor of the reinvigorated squad which will be known as the Pata Honda World Superbike and Pata Honda World Supersport teams. Both groups will once again be run by the Netherlands-based Ten Kate organisation.
For Jonathan Rea, 2013 will mark a fifth year on Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade and his sixth season of racing with Ten Kate. The 25-year-old has enjoyed a spectacular and busy 2012, combining his World Superbike duties – including wins at Assen and Donington Park – with getting married and winning the Suzuka 8-hour race.
More recently, Northern Irishman Rea has replaced the injured Casey Stoner in the Repsol Honda MotoGP team, riding back-to-back Grands Prix with the final three rounds of World Superbike.
Haslam, 29, returns to Honda’s CBR machinery after a three-year absence to continue a strong family link to the Japanese manufacturer. It was begun by his father, Ron, who won Formula 1 world championships and raced with Honda in 500cc Grands Prix.
With his own 250cc and 500cc GP experience, the younger Haslam, from Derbyshire in the UK, has been racing in the World Superbike championship since 2009 and was runner-up in the 2010 series. He has amassed a total of 28 podium finishes, including three race wins.
Lorenzo Zanetti is from Brescia in Italy and has been in the World Superbike paddock for three years, but began his career with Honda, winning the RS125 GP Cup in Italy in 2004. The 25-year-old finished third in the 2011 Superstock 1000 championship and has spent the 2012 season competing in the World Superbike series with a best result of eighth last time out at the Nurburgring in Germany.
Michael van der Mark currently leads the Superstock 600 UEM European championship in only his second season with the EAB Ten Kate Honda Junior Team. The 19-year-old from Gouda in the Netherlands began his career racing in the Dutch 125cc Junior Cup and has spent the last five years on Honda machinery.
Pata is one of Italy’s most successful snack manufacturers and is famous for the popular Artigianale brand of potato chips. The company, which employs more than 250 people, was founded in 1981 by Remo Gobbi and is based in Castiglione delle Stiviere in northern Italy.
Following the completion of the 2012 World Superbike championship at Magny-Cours, France on 7 October, the Pata Honda teams will commence a comprehensive testing and development programme in preparation for the 2013 season, which is expected to start at Phillip Island next February.
I'm happy to continue my partnership with Honda in this exciting championship. I've been loyal to Honda my whole career and that's because I believe in them as a company and I believe that we can achieve more together in the future. It’s no secret that we’ve been lacking in certain areas but I know there is a team of determined and dedicated guys working away both at the races and at the workshop to improve the bike and to try and be a consistent front runner for next season. They’ve got some very exciting plans for 2013 and beyond, and I’m sure that with a strong team-mate like Leon, we can all work together to make next season memorable for all the right reasons.
It feels good to be coming home to Honda after winning the RS125GP Cup in Italy. This is a great opportunity for me to ride for the team that has won eight of the last 11 World Supersport titles. I think that riding for these guys on Honda’s 2013 CBR600RR will be my best opportunity to show what I can do. The chance to work with such professional people and to be a part of the big Honda family is one that I hope I can maximise and enjoy as much as possible.
Michael van der Mark
When I started two years ago in Superstock, I had a dream to go to World Supersport and maybe World Superbike. These two years have been really great and now I get an opportunity to go to Supersport on the Ten Kate Honda CBR600 and I’m really looking forward to it. For sure, I have to learn a lot but I’m really excited because I already tried a bit in Moscow this year. It was a really positive experience and now I get a full season to show what I can do.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
As we all know, Honda is a company whose history is based on racing. Ten Kate Racing is the same, and to find a new partner that is so passionate about our sport seems to be a perfect fit for us. We are truly excited and honoured to join forces with Pata for next year. Our new Superbike rider line-up with Jonathan and Leon is stronger than ever and, on the technical side, there will be a lot of upgrades for next season on all fronts, so we really can’t wait for 2013 to start. We are back to full strength with our Supersport effort and have two exciting riders. With Lorenzo we have a lot of experience and talent and in Michael we have a direct product of our Junior programme, who also happens to be our first Dutch rider, which makes us all very proud.
Remo Gobbi – president, Pata S.p.A.
We have been in the World Superbike paddock for many years but never before have we worked with an official team such as this. Now we are very happy to have this important partnership with Honda, which is the biggest and best motorcycle manufacturer. Of course, we are all looking forward to great results and I think that, with the experience of this team and its riders, we can achieve those results. Pata is committed to quality in its manufacturing and is passionate about motorsport. We are looking forward to developing our partnership with Honda which operates on exactly the same principles.
Carlo Fiorani – racing operations manager, Honda Motor Europe
I am very proud and happy to make this announcement, especially with this fast and winning rider line-up. I would like to welcome Leon back to Honda’s official World Superbike team. We are delighted to have another Haslam representing Honda once more and I am sure that, with these two riders, we can continue to achieve results that can fulfil their individual potential and that of the CBR1000RR Fireblade.
At the same time, we are really happy that Jonathan can continue his World Superbike adventure with us. Together with the Ten Kate guys, we are really looking forward to continuing his development as a rider, which began with us and the team many years ago. I’m sure that the great experience of both riders will allow them both to fight again for the World Superbike title.
Of course, we are also very happy to welcome Lorenzo Zanetti back to Honda in our World Supersport programme, and Michael’s promotion to this series is proof that the Ten Kate Honda rider development programme really works. We are confident that Lorenzo’s and Michael’s talent and experience will allow them to compete strongly for the title that Honda has won with Ten Kate so many times in recent years.
Across this bigger team, we are of course delighted to welcome Pata as Honda’s title partner. It is clear that both companies share a passion for motorsport and a real dedication to quality. We are all looking forward to combining that passion and commitment to create some great results in 2013.
A big ‘Thank you’ to Leon Haslam.
After being a vital part of BMW Motorrad’s World Superbike project for two years, factory rider Leon Haslam will leave the team at the end of 2012.
Munich/Portimão, 22nd September 2012. BMW Motorrad and factory rider Leon Haslam (GBR) will part ways at the end of 2012. Leon has been part of Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport since the end of 2010 and has made a valuable contribution to the successes of the German manufacturer in the FIM Superbike World Championship.
Bernhard Gobmeier (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director):
“We want to take the opportunity to say a big ‘Thank you’ to Leon. He is not only very fast and talented, but also a great fighter. He never gives up; we can see this often enough, when he defies even serious injuries, jumps on his BMW S 1000 RR and fights to give his very best for the whole team. We can always count on him 100 percent, on and off the race track. He joined our project when it was still young. And during the past two years he played a major part in bringing this project forward by always working hard on developing and improving the bike. BMW Motorrad would not be where it is now – fighting for the world championship – without Leon’s contribution. And Leon has a great personality; he is a real friend to all of us. We are very happy that we could work with him for the past two years and of course we will give him maximum support in the remaining races to enable him to get the successes he deserves. And we know that he also will continue to give his very best for BMW Motorrad until our ways part.”
“It is obviously very sad to saying goodbye after two great years at BMW Motorrad. It has been a tough uphill project but I have enjoyed it all the way. So I want to say thank you to everyone involved and hopefully we can finish strong in the last races for them so we can part ways on a high note.”