Jon Kirkham is to join Halsall Kawasaki from the fourth round of the 2014 MCE British Superbike Championship following confirmation that the team has parted ways with Harry Hartley.
Kirkham began the year with the Tsingtao WK Kawasaki outfit, but was conspicuous by his absence during race day at Snetterton over the weekend, the former Superstock champion revealing on Twitter: “Due to limited testing and a lack of feeling with bike I'm not happy and watching this one [the races] from the fence”.
As such, Kirkham has jumped to Halsall Kawasaki to take the place of 17-year-old Hartley, who has been released from his contract in favour of a rider with more experience to challenge for the top six.
"We are disappointed to let Harry go as we believe he has the talent to make it as a top Superbike rider,” said team manager Jack Valentine. “At this early stage, the team needs stability to ensure we can be consistently in the points and this is a big ask of a young rider with so little experience.
A rider that has won races under the guidance of Valentine during his time at Samsung Crescent Suzuki, the manager is certain Kirkham – who finished seventh overall in 2013 – will flourish in his new surroundings.
"Bringing Jon Kirkham into the team was not planned; it was just a coincidence that he became available as we needed a rider. Jon is a good rider who has won races and finished on the podium for me before.
“He's had a tough time this season but I think if we can get him back on a competitive bike, we'll start to see the old Jon Kirkham. He has shown in the past that he is more than capable of top six finishes in BSB and if we can start getting those results, I have no doubt he will be challenging for podiums eventually."
Hartley's exit – having become the youngest rider to start a BSB race at just 17-years-old – comes after Lee Costello parted ways with the team ahead of the second round at Oulton Park.