Virgin Mobile Aiwa Yamaha have announced today that Steve Plater will partner earlier signing Simon Crafer in the teams 2002 British Superbike challenge. He joins the team after a trying week.

Following the disappointment of James Haydon pulling out of the Virgin Mobile Aiwa Yamaha team earlier this week, the team were at a loss with what to do. Although they understood James' desires to ride in World Superbikes it could not be denied that his departure was a setback for the team.

"It's very disappointing," said a dejected McElnea, the team boss. "I felt that we'd offered James a good package that would give him a path back on to the world stage and in principle we had an agreement.

"I know that he's gutted for the team but he has his heart set on doing World Superbike this year. I can understand that as I was a rider too, but I thought that we had a deal."

McElnea had commented that he thought Simon Crafer was as good, if not a better rider than Haydon and is confident he can give the team the results they are after. Crafer, who's from New Zealand, has had success in the past racing in grands prix, including winning in Britain in the 500cc class in 1998.

The latest addition of Steve Plater to the team has certainly raised optimism for all concerned and Plater is sure he will work well in the team.

"It's the best Christmas present I've ever had," said Plater. "I've been out of work since May and it was difficult for me jumping between rides at the end of the season.

"This is a great chance for me. I know all the guys in the team after doing a few races with them last season and I know they're a good bunch. I had a few options open to me but you've got to do what's best for your career. It's great to be sorted out before the holidays. I just can't wait to get testing. "

Plater will get his first taste of the team's new R1 when they start testing at Almeira, Spain, in late January.



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