The iconic Castrol Honda brand will return to the World Superbike championship following the launch of the new Castrol Honda team, the global lubricants brand announcing title sponsorship of Honda’s WSBK effort for the upcoming 2011 title race.
The new team will feature riders Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus campaigning Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade, with the squad being run by the Netherlands-based Ten Kate Racing outfit, who have led Honda’s World Superbike effort since 2004.
“When our world championship racing adventure was first beginning, many years ago now, Castrol Honda was the one team in the paddock which everyone looked up to, whose professional and performance standards we all wanted to achieve,” Ronald ten Kate commented.
“It is an honour for us now to be racing under this famous and historically successful banner and we are privileged to be following in the footsteps of the team we admired so much in the past.
“You can be sure that everyone in the Ten Kate Racing organisation – riders, mechanics, and all the workshop staff – will give 100 percent commitment to this really exciting new phase of our World Superbike campaign.”
Castrol’s association with Honda’s motorcycle racing activities goes all the way back to the Japanese manufacturer’s first foray into the sport at the Isle of Man TT in 1959 and the two companies celebrated 50 years of racing together in 2009.
While Castrol has maintained support of Honda’s annual World Superbike championship effort in recent years, its previous title sponsorship of the Castrol Honda team generated no fewer than three world titles.
John Kocinski won in 1997 and then the team won twice more with fellow American rider Colin Edwards in 2000 and 2002.
“Castrol are delighted to join Honda once again to see the return of the famous Castrol Honda World Superbike team to racetracks around the world,” said Castrol global sponsorship manager Donald Smith.
For Jonathan Rea, 23, the new season, which opens on 27 February at Phillip Island in Australia, will be his third in WSBK.
The Northern Irishman finished in fifth place in 2009, taking two wins, a tally which he doubled last season on his way to fourth place in the championship.
“One of my main inspirations for racing was watching Castrol Honda’s Colin Edwards battle Troy Bayliss for the World Superbike championship in that epic season in 2002,” Rea added. “It’s a real honour for me to be racing under those same famous colours for the 2011 season.
“I’ll be trying my hardest to recreate what Colin did for the Castrol Honda team. I think the bike looks fantastic and I know the Ten Kate guys back at the workshop have been working really hard on its technical development. I just can’t wait to get started.”
Ruben Xaus, meanwhile, first competed in WSBK in 1998 and finished as runner-up in 2003 before a two-year spell in MotoGP. The 32-year-old Catalan rider has 11 career wins to his name and a total of 35 podium finishes to date.
“After many years of racing at world championship level it is very nice and important for me to be part of a big project like the new Castrol Honda team,” said the former BMW rider.
“I will give my talent and every effort to help Castrol and the Honda CBR1000RR become a regular winning partnership in the 2011 championship.”
Hannspree will continue to sponsor Ten Kate’s World Supersport effort, the team signing former world champion Fabien Foret and Florian Marino for the new season.