Pro Ride Honda has announced it will not be present for the opening round of the World Superbike Championship in Australia, the Italian team citing logistical problems for the decision.
Pro Ride had planned to make its debut in the category with Makoto Tamada next week, but problems getting its equipment to Phillip Island has prompted the team to shift its focus to the second round in Portugal instead.
The latest delay for a team that had originally planned to compete with Gregorio Lavilla last season before sponsorship issues intervened, while team manager Marco Nicotari admits it was a difficult decision to make, he maintains it was the right one.
"Once again I had to take the decision that we shall miss Phillip Island round,” he said. “Personally for me it's a shame, cause it's a track that I love, but as I am responsible for this team and the project, I have to think professionally. Due to the late agreements, it is better to stay home one more month and prepare everything properly. We hope to be at Portimão at full gas."
Former MotoGP race winner Tamada was also disappointed, but understands the reasons behind the decision.
"I have to be honest and say that I am disappointed that I cannot make the season opener in Phillip Island. I always enjoyed going to Australia and the people there has always been so supportive to me.
“However, I believe that Marco's decision is right. We are a new team, and we didn't have enough time. It is tough decision, but this decision should turn out for the best in the long run."
With Pro Ride Honda and Supersonic Ducati set to debut in Portugal, the grid for the season opener in Australia is currently set at 24 riders, although fellow debutants Echo CRS Honda are also facing a race against time to find a replacement for the injured Broc Parkes.