Red Bull Rookies Honda has confirmed that Billy McConnell will join the team for the remainder of the 2004 British Supersport Championship.

The 17-year-old Australian starlet will replace the injured Jonathan Rea for the remaining four rounds of the series at Croft, Cadwell Park, Oulton Park and Donington Park.

McConnell made his UK debut at Mallory Park last month. The Adelaide rider took the National Superstock Cup by storm after taking pole position, winning the race and setting the fastest lap of the day.

That performance attracted the attention of Red Bull Rookies Honda in its quest to sign a replacement for Rea who was injured in the previous round at Knockhill.

With a background of motocross and personal watercraft racing, McConnell made his road racing debut earlier this year at Phillip Island.

He made an immediate impression there by finishing tenth in the support class for the Australian round of the Superbike World Championship.

Since then, McConnell has competed in the Australian Road Racing Championship and selected rounds of the Formula Xtreme TT Series with a string of top five finishes.

His family has a formidable racing heritage and Billy sparks the third generation of racing McConnells.

Grandfather Charlie was a multi-state speedway sidecar champion in the mid-'50s and father Kym was Australian and South Australian Speedway Sidecar Champion in the late '70s and early '80s.

Billy has clearly inherited a competitive spirit from his dad and a typical Aussie determination to win. He also has British roots as his mum emigrated to Australia from England when she was nine.

"I'm still in a state of shock really, especially after seeing the team and coming to the workshop," said McConnell. "It's a real privilege to be part of Red Bull Rookies Honda.

"I believe that the Supersport class over here is really competitive, just like in Australia. I've only seen the top riders so I'm not sure where I'll fit in yet. There are only four races left in the season so I'm hoping to perform well and secure a ride for next year so that I can move to England on a full-time basis.

"It's been great over here - seeing family and friends like Glen Richards, Paul Young and Craig Coxhell - and I've met lots of really nice people."

"We decided to look for a replacement after Jonathan Rea was injured at Knockhill and ruled out for the rest of the season," added Neil Tuxworth, Race Team Manager. "Red Bull Rookies Honda required a young, inexperienced rider to compete on the CBR600RR for the remaining four rounds. However, many of the candidates were tied to their current teams. After his outstanding performance at Mallory Park, Billy emerged as a strong, available option and we are delighted to welcome him to the team."