2015 Moto3 world champion Danny Kent has signed to ride alongside fellow former grand prix rider Gino Rea at the Buildbase Suzuki team in this year's British Superbike Championship.

After struggling to replicate his Moto3 form in Moto2, Kent - the first British road racing world champion since Barry Sheene in 1977 - left the grand prix paddock after a disappointing 2018 campaign with Speed Up, remerging in BSB.

However, the Englishman's career hit a new low when he was sacked from an MV Augusta ride in August 2019 after being handed a suspended four-month jail sentence for carrying a knife during a scuffle while out 'collecting a debt'.

Kent returned in the British Superstock 1000 class for 2020, finishing sixth in the championship with four podiums, including victory in the Brands Hatch finale, on Kawasaki machinery.

“I’m really motivated and happy to be joining the Buildbase Suzuki team and I’m looking forward to riding the superbike," said Kent. "I think a lot of people will know that my career has had both the highest highs and the lowest lows in recent years, with 2019 being a particularly low point, so I’m really grateful to Steve and Stuart [Hicken – team manager and owner] for this opportunity.

"Last year I was able to take a step back and I had a good season in Superstock 1000, where I could spend more time learning how to get the best out of a 1000cc machine and prove to people I could still race a bike, and obviously I won at the last round.

"Moving to a superbike, I think my GP experience could mean I’ll manage quite well as I’m used to a stiffer chassis setup, racing swingarms, slicks, things like that, but I also know I still have a lot of learning to do; getting used to just the speed of the bikes, and some UK tracks I’ve either not been to or not raced at since 2007.

"But I also know I’m joining a team with a lot of experience and a proven record of winning races and championships. I’m setting expectations high: I’d like to be in the Showdown at the end of the year, so hopefully we can have a good winter and find a good direction with the bike setup, and I’m excited to get started.”

The 27-year-old joins Rea, who remains with the team after an impressive – albeit shortened – campaign in 2020. Joining the ranks after the first round had taken place and with no pre-season testing, Rea still managed to enjoy time leading races and took a best finish of fourth at Donington Park.

“I’m really excited to be staying with Buildbase Suzuki for 2021," Rea said. "Hawk Racing is one of the oldest and most experienced teams in BSB and I’ve had a lot of respect for everyone involved since stepping into the championship, so I’m very thankful to Steve and Stuart for the opportunity to race for them again.

"After joining them last year and seeing the progress we made, which resulted in leading my first BSB race with them, it’s the perfect scenario to continue together and build on our hard work from last season.

"Steve and Stuart are so passionate about their racing which makes it nice and a refreshing environment to be in. I’m looking forward to getting my head down and working hard to build on our results from 2020 and give the team the results they deserve.”

“I think we’re going to have one of the most talented rider lineups on the grid this season," team manager Steve Hicken said. "As a world champion at Grand Prix level Danny’s ability is beyond question, and while he’s still relatively new to big capacity production bikes we saw him win in Superstock last year, and I think he’ll be able to adapt to the superbike very quickly and will be very exciting to watch.

“Gino’s credentials also speak for themselves as a European champion and podium finisher in Grand Prix, and I think some continuity in BSB after a couple of unsettled years will help him show his best. We started to see what he could do at the tail end of last year – leading and fighting for a podium – and hopefully we can pick up from where we left off and continue that form from the off this season."

Tim Neave remains with the team in Superstock, after picking up his first win at Silverstone.

“We’re also really pleased to be continuing with Tim this season after a positive 2020," Hicken said. "Tim’s got bags of natural ability on a bike and we saw him really start to shine last year with a win and a lap record to add to his CV. We’ve made the GSX-R a superstock championship-winner, and hopefully we can put together another challenge this year.”

 

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