Makoto Tamada has confirmed he will return to World Superbike action for the second round of the season at Portimao after securing a one-off ride with the burgeoning Reitwagen BMW team.
A surprise outing for the Japanese rider, a former winner at MotoGP level, Tamada was originally planning to make his debut with Pro Ride Honda in Portugal, but sponsorship delays for the Italian concern has instead freed him up to join Reitwagen for a single event.
The former factory Kawasaki rider will get his first taste of BMW machinery during a two-day test at Jerez this week (22 – 23 March) before joining Andrew Pitt over the three-day race weekend.
Although disappointed not to be out with Pro Ride, Tamada is nonetheless pleased to be given the chance to do some racing miles.
“I am grateful to Team Reitwagen BMW for giving me this opportunity to race with them in Portimao. Although this will be my first time racing a BMW, I have seen what it can do and amconfident that I can ride it at its full potential.”
Tamada will take the place of Roland Resch, who broke his collarbone in an accident at the Phillip Island season opener, although both Reitwagen and Pro Ride stress this is a short-term contract that will end before the end of the month.
“We are happy to welcome Makoto in our team, even if it's just for one event only and we are happy about the perfect co-operation with his team Pro Ride Superbike.
“Makoto is a fast racer and has proven that often, with wins in Word Superbike and MotoGP. With his wealth of Superbike and GP experience and capabilities, he is very worthy asset to our team and we are sure he will further help us develop and understand our bike during our private tests in Jerez.
“Makoto knows Jerez and Portimao very well. He is familiar with Pirelli tyres (from last season at Kawasaki) and the Superbike World Chmapionship. We are continuing our technical progress and he will help us with that. At our stage of development, every single test hour and every lap are very important to us. I think, if Makoto gains confidence in our bike during the test session, he will be very fast in the race.”
Tamada's arrival ensures Reitwagen BMW have two World Superbike race winners in its line-up.