Honda World Superbike star Jonathan Rea and his new team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama will embark on a three-day test shakedown at Phillip Island in Australia tomorrow (Tuesday).
Ulsterman Rea and ex-MotoGP ace Aoyama will have the opportunity to test the new 2012-specification CBR-1000RR Fireblade at the picturesque venue down under, which hosts the opening round of the World Superbike Championship next month.
The Fireblade is celebrating its 20th anniversary and the iconic Japanese manufacturer will be striving to mark the milestone in fairytale style by landing the world title this season.
Rea is determined to make amends for a disappointing campaign in 2011 when he sustained a complex wrist injury following a crash at Misano, effectively writing off any title chances.
However the 24-year-old has made a full recovery and with Aoyama providing the Ten Kate Racing team with added impetus, Honda will be hopeful of mounting a sustained assault on the World Superbike crown this season.
Whilst it has now been confirmed that Castrol will not continue as title sponsor, the oil giant will remain as a 'key secondary partner' until the end of 2013.
Castrol and Honda have a long-standing relationship that stretches back to 1959, when Honda took its first steps into world championship racing.
Robert Watherston, motorcycle racing manager at Honda Motor Europe, said: “We're delighted that Castrol has decided to continue its long-standing association with Honda and, in particular, our World Superbike campaign.
“We are especially please to have signed a two-year agreement, which takes us to the end of the 2013 season.”
Rea and Aoyama will test the 2012 Fireblade at Phillip Island from January 17-19.