-- Haslam to join Honda WSBK
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.
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.”
Leon Haslam: “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.”
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.
Michael van der Mark
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
Remo Gobbi – president, Pata S.p.A.
Carlo Fiorani – racing operations manager, Honda Motor Europe
"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."
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