The latest incarnation of an iconic team has returned to the World Superbike championship following today's launch of the new Castrol Honda team, with the global lubricants brand announcing title sponsorship of Honda's superbike 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.
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, with John Kocinski in 1997 and then twice with fellow American rider Colin Edwards in 2000 and 2002.
For Jonathan Rea, 23, the new season, which opens on 27 February at Phillip Island in Australia, will be his third in the World Superbike championship. 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.
Ruben Xaus, meanwhile, first competed in the World Superbike championship 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.
Donald Smith - sponsorship manager, Global Marketing Unit, Castrol:
"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. Motorcycle racing provides Castrol with the ultimate environment to test and develop our advanced Castrol Power One technology and the Castrol Honda World Superbike team provides a powerful and exciting platform to demonstrate the performance of our Castrol Power One products."
Carlo Fiorani - racing operations manager, Honda Motor Europe:
"We are absolutely thrilled that Castrol has shown this level of faith in Honda and its World Superbike championship team. We are really looking forward to the 2011 season and to achieving even more wins under this famous racing banner. It's great to have an such an iconic motorsport brand as title sponsor for the team and, personally, I think the CastrolHonda CBR1000RR race machine looks absolutely fantastic!"
Ronald ten Kate - manager, Castrol Honda World Superbike Team:
"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. 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% commitment to this really exciting new phase of our World Superbike campaign."
Jonathan Rea (4):
"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. It's a real honour for me to be racing under those same famous colours for the 2011 season and 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 since last season finished so now I just can't wait to get started."
Ruben Xaus (11):
"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. The biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world is joining together with one of the biggest lubricants companies in the world and supporting the Ten Kate team, which has had a lot of success with many world championship titles. All together it's a big and really exciting mixture and I will give my talent and every effort to help Castrol and the Honda CBR1000RR become a regular winning partnership in the 2011 championship."