With a track record second to none, you would expect sponsors to be queuing up to back a winning team like V&M Racing.

But with just four weeks to go before the start of the new BSB season, it's looking increasingly likely that their familiar red and yellow machinery will be conspicuous by its absence from the British Superbike grid.

After tirelessly searching all winter for that illusive main sponsor, Team owner Jack Valentine has been forced to face up to the reality that his team may not be competing in this season's blue riband class, despite attracting sponsorship interest from some high profile national companies during the closed season.

"I'm extremely disappointed to be in this position, particularly after we've held some very encouraging discussions with some top companies over the last few months," said Valentine. "We came very close to securing backing, but after months of discussions, unfortunately these companies chose spend their sponsorship budgets in other ways."

"We have all the associate and trade sponsorship in place, but to mount a successful campaign in the Superbike class needs a major sponsor," added Valentine. "In the past in Superstock and Supersport we've been able to fund it ourselves. But Superbike is a totally different ball game and without the proper budget you couldn't compete. It leaves us with no option but to face the fact that we won't be on the grid for the opening round at Silverstone."

Ironically the change to allow 1000cc machinery into the British Superbike championship, meant the V&M Racing team would have started as one of the favourites in the 2002 title chase, with a proven history of building race winning 1000cc Formula 1 bikes, which have dominated the pure road circuits in recent years.

Whilst the team have not given up hope of competing in BSB, V&M Racing can confirm they are looking to continue their successes on the public roads during 2002. David Jefferies has re-signed for V&M to compete in the North West 200, Isle of Man TT races and Ulster Grand Prix, and Valentine is confident the Yorkshireman can keep the V&M reputation in tact until they can return to the Superbike class.

"David appreciates the situation regarding BSB," said Valentine, "and we're delighted he has agreed to race for us again on the roads. It's important he stays sharp and race ready and we're pleased he has picked up a ride in the British Superstock class with the Tech 2 team. Hopefully if we can find the backing to return to Superbikes he can return with us. Both V&M Racing and David Jefferies still have a lot to prove in the British Superbike class."

So with just four weeks to go to the opening round at Silverstone, the V&M team are hoping a last minute benefactor is waiting in the wings to save their British championship season. Just in case anyone needs reminding, V&M Racing are one of the most professional and successful teams in the recent history of the sport. Winning nine British titles since 1990 in the fiercely competitive Supersport 600 class, and becoming one of the most successful teams ever to compete in the Isle of Man TT races with sixteen victories in the last ten years.