The Ten Kate Honda team have officially confirmed that they will compete in the 2004 World Superbike Championship with the new Honda Fireblade and their newly-crowned World Supersport champion Chris Vermeulen.

"This is great news for our team, the championship, Chris Vermeulen and hopefully, when we achieve the success we desire, for Honda and its exciting new Fireblade machine," said team owner Gerrit Ten Kate.

"After winning the World Supersport Championship for the past two years it's great that we have a new target for 2004. The new Fireblade machine is made for racing, with its cassette-style gearbox, electronic steering damper and generic looks from the RC211V," he added.

"We know Honda is happy this year with the CBR600RR taking the rider and manufacturer titles in World Supersport. We want to try and give Honda the same success now in World Superbike and, obviously, once again in the World Supersport Championship."

For 21-year-old Vermeulen, the chance to effectively pick up where Colin Edwards and the Castrol Honda SP2 finished in 2002 will be a massive opportunity, as the talented Australian's career rise continues.

"It's fantastic to get the chance to move into World Superbike," smiled Chris. "It's always been my dream to be able to move from World Supersport to World Superbike but to do it as champion is a special feeling.

"We know it's going to be hard work getting a new machine dialled into 'new' circuits every weekend but I'm very confident that the Ten Kate team will be able to achieve that," he added.

Honda were prevented from running the Fireblade in their own official factory team due to disagreement with FGSport over the 2004 rules - something Ten Kate had no such problems with:

"The new World Superbike technical rules are a positive step for a team like mine, offering great, new opportunities, just as Supersport offers. This is the beginning of a new era of Superbike racing," Ten Kate enthused.

Yesterday, Ducati confirmed they will run Regis Laconi and James Toseland in their factory Fila backed team next year. While the Bologna based manufacturer is likely to be the only official outfit in 2004, Ten Kate wil no doubt be receiving massive suport from Honda.