The HANNspree Ten Kate Honda team has today confirmed its rider line-up for the 2009 World Superbike and World Supersport championships.
Carlos Checa will start his second season in the production-based World Superbike championship on the Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. The 35-year-old Spaniard, whose motorcycle racing career spans more than 15 years, has taken two wins to date in his debut SBK season.
Also moving into his second World Superbike season is Japanese ace, Ryuichi Kiyonari, who joined the Ten Kate squad for 2008 on the back of two consecutive British Superbike championship titles. Kiyonari, 26, has taken three wins so far this season, but will miss the next round at Magny-Cours after breaking his collarbone in a testing crash last week.
Jonathan Rea will graduate from the Ten Kate World Supersport team to ride a Honda CBR1000RR in the 2008 World Superbike championship. The 21-year-old from Ballymena in Northern Ireland, currently lies in second place in the World Supersport championship in his debut year with the team.
Rea’s team-mate, Andrew Pitt, will spearhead the Ten Kate Honda team’s assault on the 2009 World Supersport championship. After contesting two rounds for the squad in 2007, the 32-year-old former champion from Australia is leading this year’s title race with four wins to his credit.
After winning the 2007 World Supersport championship in convincing style, Turkish rider, Kenan Sofuoglu, has endured a difficult debut season on Ten Kate Superbike machinery. The 25-year-old will return to the CBR600RR for 2009, on which he scored eight wins on his way to last year’s World Supersport title.
I am very happy to have everything in place for 2009. There has been lots of speculation, but it was clear that the best option for me was to continue with the team and fight for the championship. I now have a great opportunity for next year and, even now with two races to go, there is a chance to fight for second place this season. In the last three years, I have changed teams and bikes many times and, of course, I have been learning many new things this year. So, I think the level will definitely improve next season. I am not 20 years old any more and I want to get the benefit of the effort we have put in this season! I like this championship very much – the sporting balance is good and there is space for many manufacturers, teams and riders.
I am very happy to be riding for Ten Kate Honda for a second year in the World Superbike championship. This year has been a year of learning new tracks and new tyres but I have already won some races so I am confident of more good results next year and to challenge for the championship. This is my goal and with this great bike and my very professional team, I will work as hard as I can to achieve it.
Moving to this team has been the best decision of my career. Everyone around me has been fantastic all season and the bike is a winner, straight from the crate. I feel really at home and part of the championship now, and I’ve got great relationships with FG Sport and Pirelli. I want to be World Superbike champion and I don’t think any other team will give me a better chance. I’ve still got a Supersport championship to think about, but I can’t wait for next season to start.
After the couple of rides I had for the team last year, it was good to get a solid offer for this season and I’ve felt comfortable here from the start. With the amount of titles won by Ten Kate over the years, it was always going to be a strong package and I’m happy that we’re still fighting for this year’s championship. As for next season, I think we’ll be even stronger – we’ve got a new bike to work with and, hopefully, I’ll have a title to defend.
It’s been a tough season for me, both on the track and definitely off it. I’m very happy with the Ten Kate team, though, and I’m delighted to be riding the CBR600RR with them again next year. I will give 100% to win back the title that I won with the team last season.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager:
We are very happy to have our line-up finalised for 2009. Basically, the plan we made last year seems to be paying off. Kiyonari and Checa have been learning a new team, new tracks and new tyres this season, so next year will definitely be better. And, with Jonathan Rea moving to Superbike, we have one of the youngest and most talented British riders. It’s a perfect example of the Ten Kate Honda schooling. Our Supersport line-up is, without doubt, the best ever in our racing history, so I’m really satisfied that we can start work for 2009 as of now.