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Old 6th November 2018, 06:00 PM
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Thumbs down HRC-backed Moriwaki take over Honda's WorldSBK effort

Moriwaki will run Honda’s WorldSBK effort from 2019 onwards with help from Althea

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Ten Kate have been removed as the team responsible for running Honda’s WorldSBK effort and replaced with a joint Moriwaki/Althea effort for 2019 onwards with serious HRC support.

A switch away from the Dutch operation has been rumoured for some time, with Midori Moriwaki in evidence at the Portimao round in September but the official word was handed down today.

Ryuichi Kiyonari was the surprise addition to the rider line-up alongside incumbent Leon Camier.

The Japanese rider, who last contested WorldSBK back in 2009 when he finished 11th, was preferred over current talent like Eugene Laverty, Marco Melandri and a host of other fast riders who are now discarded to the four winds.
“First I am a bit surprised at HRC coming back to Superbike, and I am surprised HRC called me. It’s been 10 years since I have ridden in SBK, and I'm not even that fast, Norge would leave me sitting so he must have been looking for a fucking foortune to ride, I really think he should shave that moustache as it's probably doing him no favours during the negotiations, maybe they think hes a small-time bootlegger in some Chicago ganster movie or something, I was about to retire but anyway I am very happy to join this big project and look forward to some average results as I wont really be pushing that hard unless strictly necessary”
Kiyo yawned.

It is the first time that Honda have put together a works team in WorldSBK for 16 years and follows dwindling fireblade sales in place of market leader BMW.

In a return to their 'Race on sunday - Sell on monday' motorsports heritage, Honda envisage that Moriwaki's performance technology will trickle down to the road going superbike inside of 3months to boost sales.

Suzuki's new GSXR1000RR currently commands top spot in road-going bragging rights making an astonishing 5bhp more than the ageing CBR1000RR's output, while unofficial testing of Kawasaki's ZX10R proves a credible 3mph faster in a straight line across the wicklow gap, where preliminary pre-season testing by the Althea Honda racing team have revealed they had up to 14 extra teeth pulled on a dianese zipper, an eternity in motorcycling terms, before the next nearest rival on a 1299S Panigale pulled up for refreshments at Laragh
an unconfirmed spokesperson with his finger on the pulse later confirmed.

Ronald Ten Kate was unavailable for comment but is thought to be compiling an indignant yet cordial press-release statement outlining the rationale behind their decision to let Jonathon Rea abscond to a rival manufacturer in 2013, which is expected to be announced shortly.
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Old 27th November 2018, 08:42 PM
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Default Re: HRC-backed Moriwaki take over Honda's WorldSBK effort

Ten Kate Racing has today declared itself bankrupt following its ousting as the team which ran Honda’s effort in WorldSBK.

Ronald Ten Kate has stated it is a direct result of the ditching by Honda but added he hoped the operation, in one guise or another, could return to the WorldSBK paddock if not next season, then in 2020.

He issued this statement:
Ten Kate Racing BV, the company that for 18 years has been responsible for Honda’s racing activities in the World Superbike and World Supersport series, during which time the team won 10 world championship titles, has today been declared bankrupt.

This sad situation is the direct result of very late notification given to Ten Kate Racing that Honda wished to end its association with the Dutch firm. Honda stated that it wished instead to continue its activities with two other companies who would assume responsibility for the company’s technical and logistics requirements in the World Superbike championship. This notification was given to the management of Ten Kate Racing on October 30th 2018 with no earlier indication or further explanation.

Until the last race of the 2018 World Superbike season, on October 27th in Qatar, the relationship between Honda and Ten Kate Racing was ‘business as usual’, with staffing, technical development, winter testing and all other aspects of the team operation for the following season discussed in detail and with most of the important decisions already made.

Indeed, the biggest question mark was the level of technical support from Honda and the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) in Japan. A visit from HRC representatives in April to the Ten Kate Racing workshop in Nieuwleusen made it clear that, after many years, the team would no longer be solely responsible for the development of engines, chassis and electronics and that technical support would be forthcoming from the factory. Honda’s decision to stop the co-operation therefore came as a complete surprise and went totally against all the team’s expectations and beliefs.

During recent years, a clear understanding between Ten Kate Racing management and Honda established that any notification of a desire to terminate collaboration between the two parties would need to be made early (i.e. before the World Superbike championship’s summer break). This would allow Ten Kate Racing to explore opportunities for co-operation with other manufacturers and, in a worst case scenario, to manage human resources and potential redundancies within the team. During ongoing discussions Ten Kate Racing also made clear its willingness to become a logistics partner in the event that Honda wished to return to the World Superbike championship as a factory team.

Since receiving notification from Honda on October 30th, the management of Ten Kate Racing has, of course, had many conversations with other manufacturers and sponsors. However, as was feared by the team, World Superbike budgets and machinery were already fully allocated by the beginning of November.

While it was clear that there was genuine, high-level interest from a number of manufacturers, the timing was wrong. Consequently, it appears that Ten Kate Racing has been put in check-mate consciously by the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer. Pending legal proceedings relating to this situation, Ten Kate will make no further comments at this time. The team’s management will, however, continue to work on plans to race at world championship level, hopefully for (part of) the 2019 season, but otherwise for 2020.

Gerrit and Ronald ten Kate wish to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of every single member of the team over the last 18 years and to thank them for the huge successes and championship wins that those efforts have made possible.

The Ten Kate organisation also wishes to state that the end of its co-operation with Honda in World Superbikes will have no effect on the Honda dealership in Nieuwleusen or the Ten Kate Racing Products and Tuning department.
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Old 20th February 2019, 12:12 PM
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Default Re: HRC-backed Moriwaki take over Honda's WorldSBK effort

Speaking at the official launch of the Moriwaki Althea Honda Team and its multi-coloured CBR1000RR in final race trim, Soichi Yamana, the Motorcycle Department Manager of Motor Sports Division of Honda Motor explained a few things about the for-real return of Honda with full official support.

The whole project is a big return to WorldSBK for Honda, so when was the decision finally made to come back as a factory team?

“We have been thinking about this, because the CBR1000RR is quite important for us in the Superbike market,” said Yamana-san. “So we have been thinking about this for quite a long time actually, but I think it started to become realised last year, sometime towards the end of last year.”

When quizzed as to why Honda Europe’s previous partners, Ten Kate, were seemingly told so late in the process that it left them scrabbling to try and find another 2019 solution - and none is forthcoming so far - Yamana said, “In that situation we actually followed the contract condition. So, something this kind of thing can happen in racing.

“We have been through this before with our other activities also, so we did not think that it was too much of a problem. In my speech I said that we thank the co-operation with Ten Kate for a long time, and we thank them for taking the championship and a lot of wins. But to be perfectly honest with you, we haven’t seen any winning, let alone get a championship, for quite a long time now. So we feel that we need to change the situation, and also get a more efficient way to get more wins.”
Why then the co-operation with Moriwaki and Althea rather than just an official HRC team? Why not a full HRC effort?

“Again this is something to do with the possibility, realisation and efficiency,” said Yamana-san. “We thought about many options, including going alone as an HRC works team. But finally we decided that with experienced guys like Althea and Moriwaki, the fight for the championship is much more realistic than the other options.”

The team tested, just one it appears, although some say they went to Buriram in Thailand twice.

“We tested just one time in Chang, with the current setup,” said Yamana. “The bikes are pretty much the same as the ones from Japan. I am not sure the detail of what exactly has been changed, but what I understand it is pretty much the same. Maybe some adjustment here or there, depending on the race.”
So with this return to WorldSBK, does Honda see WorldSBK as the place to make development, or is Suzuka Eight-Hours the most important thing and WorldSBK development will come from that?

“Obviously we take the Eight-Hours as quite an important race,” said Yamana. “It is actually the identity of Honda. Suzuka is our home circuit, so for sure we take that as a very serious and very important race. But to be able to win that race I think we need a lot of input and a lot of know-how, knowledge of other categories that use the CBR. That is what we thought is important.”

The impression given in recent years, well over a decade in reality, is that is that Honda has not been interesting in WorldSBK. So why is it important again now?
“There are a couple of things we need to explain,” said Yamana-san. “One is the rise of the Asian market. Because in Asia we have like 70-80 per cent of motorcycle business based in Asia. In this market it used to be like a car or scooter market. These days a lot of Asian countries are getting wealthier, and there are more wealthy people around.

“They are asking us for high performance, top-level bikes. And other manufacturers are finding the opportunity to penetrate into that market. So we felt that we cannot ignore that situation anymore. So we tried to use this activity to make our Superbike more up market, more high tech image, and therefore we can persuade them to buy ours and not others. For the 600, we are now pushing very hard to give more high performance, sporty image through the ARC – Asian Road Race Championship.”
As a final question Yamana-san was asked if Honda WorldSSP and Honda Australia efforts would soon receive some more direct help. The answer appears to be not, and not yet.
“At the moment we do not have any plans for that,” said the Honda man. “It is primarily Asian activity or WorldSSP. For ASBK, maybe. We have to see how this WorldSBK project comes, and then maybe we can utilise some aspect of this.”
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