Former MotoGP rider Makoto Tamada is to make a return to the World Superbike Championship at the Nurburgring after being drafted in as the replacement for the injured Ruben Xaus at Castrol Honda.
Though he returned to testing at Assen last week, Xaus is continuing to struggle with a back injury sustained in an accident at Brno, the Spaniard opting to sit out the German event in an effort to recuperate for the final three rounds instead.
As such, Tamada, one of only a handful of riders to win at MotoGP and WSBK level, will assume riding duties with the Castrol Honda team alongside Jonathan Rea, who himself returns from an injury lay-off this weekend.
This will be Tamada's first WSBK race start since making a one-off outing with the now-defunct Reitwagen BMW team at Portimao last year.
Prior to that, he spent two seasons racing with the factory Kawasaki team having curtailed a five-season tenure in MotoGP, during which he won two races on the Camel Honda. However, his period at Kawasaki was a difficult one, Tamada struggling with persistent injury problems, leading to a best finish of just eighth in two seasons on the ZX-10R.
Nonetheless, Tamada, who won two WSBK races as a wild-card at Sugo back in 2001 and 2002, is looking forward to his opportunity on the Castrol Honda.
“It's great to be back racing in the World Superbike series. I want to thank Castrol Honda for giving me this opportunity. I am looking forward to working with the team and Jonathan, and I'm also looking forward to meeting my European fans.”
Hoping his experience will prove beneficial to a team that is looking ahead to the 2012 season, Ronald ten Kate is keen to get Tamada's opinion on the CBR1000RR.
“We're also looking forward to welcoming Makoto Tamada back to the championship. His level of experience will provide good feedback on the bike since we are already looking ahead to 2012. We are working on the development of new parts for next season so it will be good to hear his opinion, too.”