Green 'n red back in World Superbikes
COMING OUT FIGHTING: 2011 Castrol Honda riders Jonathan Rea (left) and Ruben Xaus flanked by team managers Gerrit (left) and Ronald Ten Kate with one of the new Fireblades.
Castrol and Honda. Two brands that for years have rolled off the tongue as one. Now the iconic pairing is coming back into World Superbikes for 2011.
Astride a pair of CBR1000RR Fireblade bikes in the red-and-green livery will be Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus under the management of Netherlands-based Ten Kate Racing which has led Honda's World Superbike effort since 2004.
Castrol's association with Honda's motorcycle racing goes way back to the Japanese bikemaker's first foray into the sport at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy races of 1959. Their half-century together rolled by in 2009.
THIRD SEASON FOR REA
While Castrol maintained support of Honda's annual World Superbike championship effort in recent years, its previous title sponsorship of the Castrol Honda team generated three world titles - John Kocinski in 1997 and fellow American Colin Edwards in 2000 and 2002.
For Jonathan Rea, 23, the season that will start on February 27 on Phillip Island in Australia will be his third in World Superbike racing. The Irishman finished fifth in 2009 after two wins, a tally he doubled in 2010 on his way to fourth in the championship.
Ruben Xaus, meanwhile, first competed in the World Superbike championship in 1998 and was runner-up in 2003 before a two-year spell in MotoGP. The 32-year-old Catalan has had 11 career wins and 35 podium places.
INSPIRED BY EDWARDS
Donald Smith, sponsorship manager with Castrol's global marketing unit, said: “We're delighted to join Honda once again to see the return of the famous Castrol Honda World Superbike team. Motorcycle racing provides Castrol with the ultimate environment to test and develop technology and the Honda team provides an exciting platform on which to demonstrate it.”
Rea said one of his main inspirations to race was watching Castrol Honda's Colin Edwards battle Troy Bayliss for the World Superbike championship in the epic season that was 2002. "It's a real honour for me to be racing under those same famous colours. I'll be trying my hardest to recreate what Colin did for the 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 can't wait to get started.”
Team mate Ruben Xaus was equally enthusiastic: “The biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world uniting with one of the biggest lubricant companies in the world to support the Ten Kate team. It's a big, really exciting, mixture and I'll give my talent and every effort to help it become a regular winning partnership.”