Team Rizla Suzuki has added three new members of staff to strengthen its squad for the upcoming 2003 British Superbike racing season, when John Reynolds will be looking to reclaim the crown he lost to Steve Hislop in 2002.

Rob Hodkinson becomes the squad's new operations manager, Les Pearson is chief mechanic for new team rider Yukio Kagayama, and Jason McClean joins as press officer. All three linked up with the team at the start of November and are looking forward to using their wealth of experience to win races and make Team Rizla Suzuki the premier team in the BSB paddock.

Hodkinson, 40, has a history in motorcycles, coming from the manager's position at the Fibreone-Tech junior Superstock team. Before that, he was the events manager for the Red Bull team in the UK.

"I learnt a lot working with the Fibreone-Tech team, and now I want to take Team Rizla Suzuki forward," he said, "It is my job to raise the profile of the team and how it portrays itself."

Nottingham native Hodkinson is a father of two - Tom (15) and Millie (13) - and will spend his working weeks living with the team in Poole, near its Verwood base. Moving down from Nottingham gives him more time to pursue his interests of the gym, motocross and off-road riding, with his pride and joy being a hand-built race-spec Supermodel machine.

"I am a grafter and want everything to run smoothly with the team," he explained, "Any pressure I can take off the guys to let them concentrate on their jobs and winning races, I'll happily shoulder."

Pearson joins Team Rizla Suzuki as the chief mechanic for new-to-the-UK factory star Yukio Kagayama. The 38-year-old is one of the most respected technicians in any paddock and spent 2002 looking after the machines used in a one-make race series in the UK. Before that, he was with Chris Walker for four years and even worked with Suzuki in 2000 when Walker finished runner-up in the British Superbike Championship. Now living in nearby Bournemouth, Pearson reckons his strong point is getting bikes to handle.

"I have worked with four-cylinder bikes for a long time and my strength is chassis set-up," he professed, "In World Superbikes, we always were the fastest four-cylinder bike, the same was true for UK BSB in 2000. The GSX-R1000 is easily capable of doing the job and has more power than the 750s. The chassis is completely adjustable as well, so I'll be concentrating on getting the rider comfortable with the bike."

Pearson, who races in Expert Club Level moto cross, knows a few phrases in Japanese, but is relying on Kagayama's English for communication when they need it.

"Yukio's got the potential and I can see him finishing on the rostrum regularly next year."

McClean is the new full-time press officer with Team Rizla Suzuki. His job is to boost the media profile of the team and its sponsors.

"Team Rizla Suzuki is already one of the most media friendly teams in the paddock," he revealed, "I plan to make it even more accessible and to create good long-term relationships with all sorts of media and members of the press."

McClean started out as a humble reporter with MCN, then spent three years working closely with Suzuki GB and Suzuki's MotoGP team.

"Media exposure is our aim and we want to trail blaze and lead the way in British Superbikes," he said, "I will be casting a wide net to try and involve as many different forms of media as possible - from printed press, regional reports, television and satellite, to name just a few."

 

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