The official Honda UK team, winners of the 2013 MCE British Superbike Championship title with Alex Lowes, have announced a shock withdrawal from the series for 2014.
The factory-assisted outfit, which has won three world titles under the Castrol Honda banner, has been a mainstay of the BSB paddock since joining in 2003, notching up championship wins in 2006, 2007 and 2010 with Ryuichi Kiyonari, before Lowes triumphed over Shane Byrne to prevail in 2013.
However, with the BSB grid filling up fast and lead rider Lowes almost certain to be riding in the World Superbike Championship in 2014 with Suzuki, Honda has been left struggling to fill its available seats with a top level rider, while title sponsors Samsung have also departed.
With this in mind, Honda has opted to re-evaluate its plans for 2014, revealing it will enter a handful of 'wild-card' events next season with guest riders as they prepare to make a full return in 2015.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and it was not our preferred option but we feel that given the cumulative circumstances, it is the best course of action for us at this time,” said Honda UK's Head of Motorcycles, Nick Campolucci.
“Honda goes racing to win. Unless we have the right elements in place to achieve the success on track we know we are capable of, our preferred option is to re-evaluate and re-structure for a stronger and more aligned effort. The British Superbike Championship is very important to Honda UK and we plan a full return to the series in 2015."
The majority of staff will transfer to Honda's renewed efforts for success on the Endurance World Championship stage.