Honda Racing and Red Bull have announced that they are joining forces for the next three-years to develop young British motorcycle racers into the stars of tomorrow.

The partnership was confirmed at the International Motorcycle Show, held at the NEC in Birmingham, by Honda Racing's Neil Tuxworth and Red Bull's Linda Pelham.

"Honda Racing is delighted to welcome Red Bull into a three-year partnership with the team," began Tuxworth. "We are looking forward to embarking on one of the most exciting projects ever encountered in the sport, which in theory could lead to the development of future British and World Champions. Honda and Red Bull are committed to the development of youth and giving British fans some new heroes to aspire to in the coming seasons."

Red Bull Rookies Honda Racing - as the team will be known - is a natural progression from the foundations that have already been laid by the original Red Bull Rookies outfit (middle pic).

There will be two riders entered into the British 125cc Championship on Honda RS125s - but there are now added incentives for them to succeed: In 2004, there will also be an entry in the British Supersport Championship alongside Honda Racing's existing champion Karl Harris (top pic).

The 2004 125cc riders will then have the opportunity to move on to the CBR600RR in 2005 as part of the process. The three Red Bull Rookies Honda Racing bikes (ie. one CBR600RR and two RS125s) will run under Red Bull colours.

"The new team and partnership with Honda Racing is without doubt the best hope that we have for the future development of young British motorcycle racers," said Pelham. "The levels of technical and promotional support will hopefully ensure that being a member of the team becomes a top priority to the stars of tomorrow and gives them an excellent opportunity to fulfil their dreams."

"Both parties see the new initiative as one of the most significant developments in the history of British motorcycle sport," explained Tuxworth. "The three-tier structure for the team is unique and presents young talented riders with a superb opportunity to develop their careers under professional guidance."

As an indication of how the process will work, Jonathan Rea (lower pic) has been confirmed as the first signing for Red Bull Rookies Honda Racing in the British Supersport Championship.

The 16-year-old Ballyclare rider has impressed both parties in this year's National 125cc Championship on his Red Bull Rookies RS125 and at a subsequent test on Harris' championship winning CBR600RR at Cadwell Park.

A further announcement will be made in December regarding the signing of two new 125cc riders. This will be decided after a selection process that is due to be carried out at one British circuit early next month.

Similarly, Honda Racing is also close to revealing its plans for the Superbike class, including news of its riders and partners for the 2004 season. Steve Plater, who rode for the team alongside Mark Heckles this year, has already left to return to the Virgin Yamaha team.



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