With Kiyonari moving to WSBK and team-mate Jonathan Rea to WSS, both with Ten Kate Honda, HM Plant had two seats to fill for next season - and has secured one proven title contender and one star rookie to campaign the all-new CBR1000RR Fireblade.

With the future of Airwaves Ducati still undecided, former title runner-up Leon Haslam has switched to the official Honda team - and will want nothing less than the 2008 BSB crown.

"I'm so excited to be back with Honda on the new Fireblade in BSB," enthused the 24-year-old, third in the 2007 BSB championship. "Honda is a very big part of my family's history and the new bike looks like a winner straight out of the crate. I just can't wait for next season to get started."

In 2001, Haslam became the youngest ever rider to compete in the 500cc road racing world championship on a Honda NSR500V, following in the steps of his father, Ron Haslam, who raced for Honda in GPs during the 1980s.

Leon will be joined by 2007 BSB rookie Cal Crutchlow. Crutchlow was a product of the highly successful Junior Superstock series and the Virgin R6 Cup, where he finished second in 2003 before moving to the closely-fought British Supersport championship.

With Northpoint Ekerold Honda team, Cal won the 2006 British Supersport Championship, then made the leap into BSB with the Rizla Suzuki team. This season he scored his first podium at the final round at Brands Hatch and won the Mallory Park Race of the Year.

"I think in my first year of being in the British Superbike series I've done myself proud and enjoyed it immensely," explained Crutchlow. "Moving to HM Plant Honda is a step towards wining the BSB title - which has always been my aim - so this is a fantastic opportunity. I was a winner with Honda in Supersport last year, so I've only had a year away from them so it's good to be coming back home to Honda. I ended 2007 on a high with a podium and the Race of the Year win so that's a good stepping-stone for 2008."

"I've known Leon all his life and seen him develop into a very mature and committed rider," declared Honda Racing manager, Neil Tuxworth. "It's hard to believe he's still just 24 but it's clear he's got what Honda needs to retain the British Superbike title in 2008. With Cal we have another young rider who knows what it takes to win a championship and his determination and sheer ability have made a very big impression on me in the few years that he's been racing."

"Achieving first and second this season has been tremendous - now we're really looking forward to 'doing the double in'08'," stated Honda UK's general manager of motorcycles, Steve Martindale.

 

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