Kiyonari with Samsung Honda
Samsung Honda have today (Monday) announced the dramatic return of Ryuichi Kiyonari, the most successful rider in the series’ history, alongside young gun Alex Lowes as they target the 2013 MCE Insurance British Superbike title.
Kiyonari has already achieved three titles with the Louth-based team, winning the coveted crown in 2006 and 2007 and 2010. The Japanese ace has scored more wins than anyone else in the championship, but his record of 43 is only marginally ahead of reigning champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne, who is now just two adrift of equalling the feat. Kiyonari added an Asia Road Racing Championship title to his achievements in 2012 and returns to the UK totally focused on maintaining his position as the most successful rider in BSB history.
Lincoln’s Alex Lowes joins the Samsung Honda team following a breakthrough 2012 campaign, which saw him celebrate his first race win after making the cut for the title Showdown. Lowes’ superb performances over the final three rounds saw him leap ahead of his title rivals and end the season as the highest-placed Honda rider in the overall standings in fourth.
Samsung Honda has also confirmed its return to the fiercely-contested British Supersport Championship, with Australian Jason O’Halloran re-signing for a third season after finishing runner-up in the 2012 National Superstock class. The team are determined to add to their tally of three British Supersport title wins as they return to the class for the first time since lifting the crown in 2009.
Kiyonari said: “I am very, very happy to be back because I have missed BSB so much. I want to be better than before. I miss the championship: the races, the fans, the team – all of it and that is why I have returned. I know that next season is very important for me and I need to get results and wins because I don’t want it to be like last time (2011). I want to be challenging again like when I won the title before. I have to give more than one hundred percent and I want a fourth title to show that I can do it again. I want to show what I can still do; I want to win more titles. My aim is for more wins and be champion again. I don’t know if I will be a target, I think the riders will want to beat Shakey. I don’t care about looking at other riders, because I just want to win and that is what I will focus on.”
Lowes said: “It is obviously a great opportunity for me to join Samsung Honda and I am ready to give it everything. I had a great season on the Honda last year and I think my style suits the Fireblade and I feel comfortable pushing it. The team have a lot of experience and we want to win the championship; they are a strong team and I think we are in a really good position to try and win that back. This is my best chance now that I have had a couple of seasons in BSB, now I just need to come out and be consistent from the start. I want to pick up where I left off last year and then we should be in a position ready for the end of the season and the Showdown. I want to be winning more races next year as I definitely think I am in a position now to be going for the title.”
O’Halloran said: “It is an interesting direction to move into British Supersport for me but I have experience in that class – winning the Australian Supersport Championship in 2007 was a highlight of my career. I am excited to get on the new 2013 CBR600RR and it is the ideal time to make a statement in the championship with a new bike, which I am sure I can make.”
Team Manager Havier Beltran said: “We are very happy to announce what we think is a supremely strong rider line-up in both Superbike and Supersport. With Kiyo returning we know we have a rider who is a proven winner and we hope to get the best out of him once again. Alex Lowes is a young, exciting rider on so many levels and has great potential to become one of the greats. Jason is the ideal rider to spearhead the Supersport programme, a championship we last competed in, and won in 2009, and want to win again! We have a hunger for more silverware and are confident we have the right people in place in the team to make this happen.”