CASTROL HONDA TEAM RETURNS TO WORLD SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP

Echo of a Slight-ly historic alliance

The latest incarnation of an iconic team has returned to the World Superbike championship following today's launch of the new Castrol Honda team, with the global lubricants brand announcing title sponsorship of Honda's superbike effort for the upcoming 2011 title race.

The new team evokes the glory days of Honda and Castrol in World Superbikes, when New Zealand's own Aaron Slight and Texan Colin Edwards formed a "double A" race team at the sharp end of the championship.

The new team will feature riders Ruben Xaus and Jonathan Rea campaigning Honda's latest CBR1000RR Fireblade, with the squad being run by the Netherlands-based Ten Kate Racing outfit, who have led Honda's World Superbike effort since 2004.

Castrol's association with Honda's motorcycle racing activities goes all the way back to the Japanese manufacturer's first foray into the sport at the Isle of Man TT in 1959 and the two companies celebrated 50 years of racing together in 2009.

While Castrol has maintained support of Honda's annual World Superbike championship effort in recent years, its previous title sponsorship of the Castrol Honda team generated no fewer than three world titles, with John Kocinski in 1997 and then twice with fellow American rider Colin Edwards in 2000 and 2002.

Ruben Xaus first competed in the World Superbike championship in 1998 and finished runner-up in 2003 before a two-year spell in MotoGP. The 32-year-old Catalan rider has 11 career wins to his name and a total of 35 podium finishes to date.

For Jonathan Rea, 23, the new season, which opens on 27 February at Phillip Island in Australia, will be his third in the World Superbike championship. The Northern Irishman finished in fifth place in 2009, taking two wins, a tally which he doubled last season on his way to fourth place in the championship.

-source: wsbk