Team WD-40 team manager Brent Gladwin has revealed his outfit was planning to announce a move into the MCE British Superbike Championship with Tommy Aquino just days after the promising youngster was killed in a tragic accident in his native United States.
Aquino, 21, was riding motocross in California when he was involved in a collision with another rider and fatally injured.
The accident came shortly before the American rider was due to return to the UK, where he was set to be announced as part of Team WD-40's bold plans to step up to the Superbike class following a strong first year together at Superstock level.
Paying tribute to 'Hollywood' Aquino, Gladwin says his passing has left a 'huge void' in the team.
"It has been a difficult time for everyone involved with Team WD-40. We had been working exceptionally hard over the winter to ensure that we would be able to give Tommy the best opportunity to shine in the Superbike class, as we believed he had the talent to go all the way in BSB. We saw from his performances last season in the Superstock class that he really was something special. We had big plans for him this season and we were all excited about the prospect of Tommy progressing his racing career, before he was taken by this tragic accident.
"Tommy's passing leaves a huge void in Team WD-40, but the preparation work continues and the team is still hungry to build on the previous season's success within the Superbikes. Our loyal partners, WD-40 and Stauff UK, have been extremely supportive during this difficult time and we are now completely focused on the different opportunities available to reach team capacity and our full potential.
Team WD-40 has put its Superbike plans on hold, but will continue to focus on a two-man campaign in the Superstock 1000 class.
"We are pleased to have two confirmed riders in the BSB Superstock classes, who we will announce over the coming weeks before they begin their pre-season testing programme ready for the opening round. As a team and with Tommy's family's blessing, we are keen to continue on the successes of last season."