Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl have unveiled the official Honda World Superbike squad which has gained title sponsorship backing from Red Bull.
In a team launch at Red Bull's Hangar-7 HQ in Salzburg, Hayden and Bradl pulled the wraps off the new Fireblade in its 2017 World Superbike livery with the new bike having retained its black livery at recent pre-season tests during the winter.
The new-look Red Bull Honda is adored with the Red Bull colours in a striking livery change for 2017.
The Ten Kate Racing-run squad has a refreshed set-up in 2017 with the arrival of the highly-anticipated Fireblade CBR1000RR SP2 plus new rider Bradl alongside Hayden who joined the team last year.
Under the stewardship of the Dutch squad, Honda gains a new title sponsor in the shape of Red Bull having lost previous sponsors Pata to the returning factory Yamaha squad at the end of 2015.
After enduring a year without a primary sponsor, team manager Ronald Ten Kate is thrilled to welcome Red Bull in World Superbikes – a move boosted by the company's affiliation with Bradl during his MotoGP years.
“We are all very excited about our new venture as the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team,” Ten Kate said. “The start of the season in Australia is just around the corner and we are working extremely hard to be ready for the racing debut of the all-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.
“The bike is a welcome arrival and a big step forward in terms of performance potential. Although it's still early days, we have a full-scale plan of development in order to get it to the front. Nicky and Stefan are two of the best riders in the world and I'm sure they will extract the maximum from it.”
New signing Bradl, who is gearing up for his rookie World Superbike campaign having climbed the GP ranks since his 125cc GP debut in 2006, is relishing the new challenge along with the support of long-time backers Red Bull.
“I'm really looking forward to the new season, It's a whole new experience for me, and a new championship where I've never raced before,” Bradl said. “It's going to be a very interesting partnership with Honda and Red Bull, which is undoubtedly an amazing brand, and one that has been supporting me for my whole racing career.
“I'm really happy to be a Red Bull athlete and even happier now that it has also become the team's title partner. We have a new Fireblade for the season, so it will take a little bit of time to dial it in but we'll do our best to take it to the top as soon as possible. All in all it's a great project and step by step we will make it a successful one.”
Hayden, who claimed the 2006 MotoGP world championship with Repsol Honda, is thrilled to reform a working partnership with Red Bull as he aims to build upon a successful maiden World Superbike campaign in which he claimed Honda's sole race win in the wet race two at Sepang.
“It's a new year with a new bike, new title partner and new team-mate, so there are definitely many changes ahead and a lot of things to look forward to,” Hayden said. “This is my second year in World Superbike so I hope to take the experience I made last year and take it up to the next level.
“I'm really glad to get back together with Red Bull, who I have represented in the past, and it's a great opportunity for me. We have to focus now on the job ahead and work as hard as we can in order to be ready for the season opener. The level of the competition is higher than ever and we have a big job ahead of us, but everybody is really motivated and I cannot wait to get started.”
The Red Bull Honda squad will head to Phillip Island for a final pre-season test just days before the 2017 season opener at the Australia circuit on the 24-26 February.