Josh Brookes has been forced to withdraw from the opening round of the British Superbike Championship after being prevented from entering the country.

Aussie rider Brookes was due to arrive in the UK this week to compete in his first event for the HM Plant Honda team, but problems with his visa mean he has been turned back until it has been sorted.

"I'm absolutely gutted that I couldn't get my visa sorted in time following the change in immigration rules but thank Honda and the team for all their efforts and I'm doing everything possible to make sure I'm on the grid at Oulton Park in three weeks' time," said Brookes.

"We are so disappointed for Josh to not be with us for the start of the season but are confident his visa issue can be resolved and the team will be complete for next round," added team manager Havier Beltran.

Brookes' withdrawal means a late call up for Steve Plater, who will join Glen Richards on the Honda CBR1000RR Superbike, as well as assume his regular role as their Supersport representative.

"I really can't wait to get on the CBR600RR and get out there back on track in the supersport class," began Plater. "I think this class will be very competitive this year. I've finished second in the championship twice before so have got some unfinished business and my priority is to go out there and win the British Supersport title.

"For this first round I'll be standing in for Josh in the British Superbike class as well so it'll be a busy weekend and I'll certainly be putting in some miles around Brands Hatch. But I'm very happy to have been asked by the team to take on this role and it will also be good as it will provide me with more knowledge and experience of the Fireblade ahead of Le Mans the following weekend.

"The next few weeks are going to be pretty full on as I head from Brands Hatch straight to Le Mans for testing early next week, then back to the UK for a TT test, back to Le Mans for the race that weekend and then straight to the Isle of Man for the '09 TT launch media conference the following Monday!

"Nothing like starting the season with an action packed calendar but I'm really looking forward to everything and particularly getting into the British Supersport Championship."