John Crockford and Adrian Coates have been confirmed as riders for the Padgett's Motorcycles team in the BSB-supporting 2003 British Supersport Championship.

The pairing, who first rode together in the British Superbike class at Thruxton last year, will be using the very latest version of Honda's CBR600RR. Crockford, runner-up in the 2002 Superstock series, will be hoping to continue his uninterrupted run of eight podium finishes, even though Britain's premier 600 class sees one of the strongest fields in it's history.

"When I rode for the team at Thruxton, I was impressed at how fast their bikes were," he said, "Throughout the year, they were often the fastest four-cylinder bikes through the speed traps. As soon as the 2002 season was over, I spoke to Clive Padgett about a ride for 2003 and I'm really pleased it's all come together. With the knowledge available to the team combined with the potential of the new 600 Honda, I'm sure we'll be up there with the factory supported teams."

The 2001 British 250cc champion, Coates is also looking forward to the new season, which will see him competing on a 600 for the first time.

"Last year, in BSB, was a real learning year for me, as it was my first season on a four-stroke," the Ulsterman admitted, "The 1000cc Suzukis were quite a handful with a surplus of power over handling. I would've been quite happy to continue on a superbike, but we took a strategic decision to switch to the 600 class. One of the benefits for me is that the 600s are more like a 250 GP bike, so I'm hoping a smooth style with plenty of corner speed will really pay dividends."

With more than twenty years experience of top level motorcycle racing under his belt, team manager Clive Padgett could be forgiven for approaching 2003 as just another season, but the ex-GP racer is clearly relishing the challenge of a new chapter in the Padgett family's racing history.

"After weighing up the options, we all agreed that, with its return to British championship status, the Supersport class offered the best platform from which to drive the team towards it's goal of competing at world championship level again," he said, "The new Hondas are a major step forward in performance and with two proven riders on board we're looking forward to plenty of success this year. Both Adrian and John are coming into the class from more powerful, but less well-mannered, bikes, so their confidence levels will be right up there."

Because the first batch of the new Hondas has still to be delivered, there will be limited time for the team to prepare the race bikes before the first round at Silverstone on 30 March. In the meantime, Coates and Crockford will be busy preparing for their new mounts by putting some miles on two of last year's Supersport championship bikes.

"As one of the few teams committed to running two riders, it certainly won't be easy for us against the likes of Leon Haslam, Karl Harris and defending champion Stuart Easton," Padgett revealed, "but the level of competition will ensure it's a really enjoyable season for all the teams as well as the spectators."



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