Harry Hartley is set to become the youngest rider to start an MCE British Superbike Championship race this season after he was named as part of Halsall Racing's two-man line-up for the 2014 season.
At just 17-years-old, Hartley will secure his place in the history books when the opening round of the season gets underway in April, the youngster set to ride a Kawasaki ZX-10R alongside Lee Costello, who has been re-signed for a second year.
Having previously competed in British 125GP and the National Superstock 600 series, where he took a podium in the final round of the year, Hartley is thrilled to be progressing to Superbikes and to be sharing tarmac with the likes of John Hopkins.
“This is a really big opportunity for me and I need to thank Halsall Racing for making this ambition become a reality. I am going to take this year as it comes because I don't want to overwhelm myself at the first round; I used to watch Hopper (Hopkins) for example race in MotoGP so to be on the same grid as some of the other Superbike riders is exciting, but I know I have a lot to learn at the same time.
“It is fantastic to be joining such a professional team in the Championship and after the results they achieved last year I really hope that I can learn a lot from them and develop as a rider.”
Costello, meanwhile, heads into a second season on the back of a remarkable conclusion to his maiden year when he came within metres of winning a race at Brands Hatch. Prior to that, Costello had shown steady progress in his rookie season, but he is confident his headline-grabbing performance at the season finale is a fitting prelude to a stronger 2014.
“As we now have a season in the Championship under our belts I would like to think this year we can aim for more as we have some experience in Superbike we can build on. I would like to pick up where we left off last year and for me, to continue developing as a Superbike rider as I feel that I learnt a lot in my first season. It is an ambition of mine to be able to try and fight for a position in the top six for the Showdown and that is what I am aiming to push for this year.”
Making its BSB debut in 2013, Halsall Racing enjoyed several eye-catching moments in his maiden year, not least when Tommy Bridewell joined mid-season and picked up a trio of podiums for the privateer team. Coupled to Costello's performance at Brands Hatch, team owner Martin Halsall has high hopes for his young rider line-up this season.
“I am very excited about the season ahead. As a team we have remained committed to Lee and after a steep learning curve last year he now has the experience to build on – hopefully we can see a few more performances like that final round at Brands Hatch!
“As a team we are also focused on bringing young contenders to the championship and developing them to become Superbike riders of the future and at 17 when the season starts, Harry will be the youngest ever rider to feature on the MCE BSB grid.
“If you look at someone like Marc Marquez he is a world champion at the age of just 20 and that is because of the route and opportunities that he has been given and Halsall Racing want to be part of helping our young riders rise through the ranks here in the UK.
“We know that our bikes are capable of getting results; we saw that with Lee, Tommy (Bridewell) and also Josh (Waters) last season, so I hope that our dedication, hard work and belief in both Lee and Harry will put us in a position to aim even higher in our second MCE BSB season.”
Halsall Racing's two man Kawasaki line-up brings the number of ZX-10Rs on the provisional BSB grid up to 15, out of a total of 26.