Honda Racing has announced that Michal Rutter and Ryuichi Kiyonari will lead the team's assault on the 2004 British Superbike Championship - and also revealed that HM Plant, well known for their previous support of the GSE WSBK outfit, with be the team's new title sponsor.

30-year-old Rutter is already one of the stars of the BSB series, having finished the past two seasons second and third in the series for Renegade Ducati. The street racing ace will doubtless be hoping to go one better on Honda's latest four-cylinder Superbike.

By contrast, his 21-year-old team-mate will be a championship rookie - but with invaluable experience racing in his native Japan and the MotoGP World Championship last season (where he replaced the late Daijiro Kato at the Telefonica Honda team) the Japanese is expected to make a significant impact on the series.

Honda's ex-MotoGP and World Superbike star Tady Okada (pictured with Kiyonari), who will be supervising the new CBR1000RR project with full Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) support, will join him.

Honda Racing also confirmed that Red Bull would extend its partnership with the manufacturer to become principle sponsor of the team - this is in addition to the Red Bull Rookies Honda youth development programme, which was announced before Christmas.

"Honda Racing is delighted to welcome HM Plant and Red Bull as three-year partners of the team," said Neil Tuxworth, Honda Racing team manager. "We are all looking forward to embarking on one of the most exciting projects ever undertaken in the sport - the development of the new CBR1000RR, the defence of the Supersport title and the possible development of future British and World Champions."

HM Plant Honda Racing has contracted British Supersport Champion Karl Harris to defend his title on the CBR600RR. The services of the talented 24-year-old Yorkshireman have been retained following a superb 2003 season when he won the ultra-competitive, 12-round series by the comfortable margin of 43 points.

 

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