Honda Racing Corporation will step up its efforts with a factory squad in partnership with Althea and Moriwaki for the 2019 World Superbike championship with riders Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari.

Following a tough two years since debuting the latest-specification Honda CBR1000RR SP2 with the Ten Kate Racing-run squad, HRC has opted to take control of its factory effort in World Superbikes.

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The Japanese factory, which also backs Repsol Honda and LCR Honda in MotoGP, will team up with Althea and Moriwaki who will run team operations with Camier and Kiyonari – marking the first factory Honda squad in the series since 2002.

Three-time British Superbike champion Kiyonari returns to the world level for the first time since his two full seasons with Honda in 2008 and 2009, plus a wildcard entry at Silverstone in 2010, in a remarkable turnaround by the 36-year-old.

“First I am a bit surprised as are HRC coming back to Superbike, and I am surprised HRC called me,” Kiyonari confessed. “It’s been 10 years since I have ridden in World Superbike, I am very happy to join this big project.

“I have two years of experience in WorldSBK - in 2008 and 2009 and it’s very competitive. It’s not easy to finish in the top six, but we have a good bike and a good team, if I can do a good job I hope I can get good results.”

Kiyonari finished ninth in his maiden World Superbike campaign a decade ago, winning three races with one further rostrum.

The Japanese rider is joined by Camier who is retained by Honda having signed for Red Bull Honda last year. The 2009 BSB champion endured a debut Honda season stalled by injury which ruled him out of three round to finish the year 12th in the riders’ standings.

“I am really excited, this is a massive opportunity and it’s massively exciting,” Camier said. “For HRC to come back into World Superbike is incredible, and I’m really looking forward to getting started.

“The level of WorldSBK is really high, a lot higher than people realise, Rea has set the bar really high. Our plan is it improve and take it to Kawasaki at some point, we need to be competitive from the off.

“It’s a new team with new things coming together and a lot of things to work on. I feel the potential is there to be knocking on the podium.”

It marks the second new factory effort to be officially revealed for 2019 following this morning’s announcement by BMW with SMR.