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Laverty and Kirkham line up for Honda in 2012

Tuesday, November 22 2011

Triple MCE Insurance British Superbike champions Honda (UK) have today (Tuesday) confirmed their line-up for the 2012 season as the team announced the signing of Michael Laverty and Jon Kirkham in a bid to fight for a fourth crown.

Laverty was a Title Fighter in the Showdown last season, securing three wins and a further five podium finishes as he switches to Honda power for next year's campaign. He lines up with former National Superstock champion Jon Kirkham, who scored a maiden BSB race win in 2011 and lifted the BSB Riders Cup. The pairing are ready to battle for the title with Honda as BSB enters a new era with new technical regulations, and both Laverty and Kirkham are confident they will have the package to beat after Honda were victorious in the Evo Championship in 2011.

Laverty said: "It is an exciting prospect for me to be joining Honda for 2012. It was unexpected and it is always a difficult decision to move teams, especially as we had such a good season this year. I was fortunate to have options and I have gone from one championship winning team to another; everyone knows that Honda have the history in BSB and we are really looking forward now to next season. I think the change with the rules has played a part in my decision to join Honda. You can see from Evo this season that the Honda chassis and engine was so strong and delivers useable power which will be so important next year. Next season for sure is going to be interesting and I think we start in a great position. The calibre of Honda and the Fireblade is high and we know we have big potential to fight for the title."

Kirkham said: "It is absolutely fantastic for me to be joining the official Honda team as they are well established and the most successful team in the BSB paddock. I really do believe they will have the package to beat with the new technical regulations as you could see how strong the Honda Fireblade was in the Evo championship last season, and the new for 2012 'Blade looks set to be even stronger. 2011 was an up and down season for me so next year I just want to concentrate on my riding and getting the Honda up the front where we want and need to be. I want to be consistently 'up there'. This season I have proved I can be, so I now need to do that every race and with the Honda team I believe that is totally possible. I have my own expectations; I am sure everyone does, but I definitely want to exceed them next year. I have never been so excited about a season as I am about 2012 and I just want to get started now."

Honda (UK) also confirmed their line-up for the 2012 Metzeler National Superstock 1000 Championship assault with Jason O'Halloran returning for a second season, teaming up with Gary Johnson. TT star Johnson has been a regular front runner in both British Supersport and Superstock classes, while O'Halloran was forced out of several rounds last season through injury.

Johnson said: "It's great to be joining such a successful team and I can't wait to get on the new Fireblade, get testing and the get the new racing season underway. I think Jason and I will also be good for each other in that we'll push each other, and I'm just looking forward to getting back to racing and also the whole team environment at Honda Racing which I know will be hard working but also good fun."

O'Halloran added: "We started the season really strong this year and everything with the team and the Fireblade was spot on, so to have had to take almost five months out to recover from my accident was frustrating. Being able to get back on the bike for the final few rounds was a great help and I now feel well recovered, fighting fit and definitely ready to get back out there and finish what I started this year - which is to win the Superstock title."

Team Manager Havier Beltran concluded: "We are very happy to announce these four riders who bring a great mix of different talents and personalities to the team. All four have great natural racing ability and proven credentials, but all of them also very much have the potential to go even further and have things they want to prove in their respective championships. With this combination, coupled with the new regulations and the new 2012 CBR1000RR Fireblade, we are injecting some great new energy into our racing operation and we will continue to be a force to be reckoned with next season."

All four riders will be contesting their respective championships in 2012 on the CBR1000RR Fireblade which celebrates its 20th anniversary since conception of this iconic machine and racing legend back in 1992.