BSB: Ducati British Superbike round one preview

Defending double British Superbike Champions MonsterMob Ducati go into this weekend's opening round of BSB2004 brim full of confidence as their bid for a third successive title gets underway at Silverstone on Sunday. After the late Steve...

Defending double British Superbike Champions MonsterMob Ducati go into this weekend's opening round of BSB2004 brim full of confidence as their bid for a third successive title gets underway at Silverstone on Sunday.

After the late Steve Hislop's title success in 2002 followed by Shane 'Shakey' Byrne lifting the crown again last season before moving onto Moto GP, the Paul Bird Motorsport squad are pinning their hopes on the experienced Sean Emmett in the Superbike class aboard the factory supported Ducati 999 F04.

The 34 year old Londoner has endured a torrid time over the past few seasons and views his chances with Britain's most successful team in recent years as his best bet for landing the elusive title:

"I'm very confident, especially after the test at Silverstone last week when I was fastest, but I know come race day it will be a different matter. It's important we leave Silverstone with a good points haul as the next two tracks we go to are two of my favourites but I just can't wait to get going. A double would be fantastic to get the season rolling but we'll have to wait and see" declared the former 500cc GP rider.

Another new face joins Emmett in the Penrith-based team in the shape of young Ulsterman Michael Laverty who will be hoping to win back the Supersport title that the team relinquished last season.

The 22 year old County Antrim rider will have the latest works 749cc Ducati at his disposal and starts as one of the favourites going into round one:

"It's going to be tough but I know I have the best package out there" said Laverty. "We've not had as much testing as I'd have liked but I feel very comfortable on the bike and I'm confident we can find a good race set up in order to be on the pace come Sunday."

Team owner Paul Bird too is looking forward to the season ahead as he bids for an unprecedented third title. The Penrith businessman, who has spent much of the winter behind the wheel of his Ford Focus World Rally Car whereby he has rapidly climbed the UK driver's rankings, is also quietly confident:

"We know that we are the team to beat and that everyone has upped their game this year to try to do just that but we remain confident with the package we have in place. Both riders have points to prove and with the best machinery from Ducati at our disposal, I see no reason why we can't keep winning. My team of Phil Borley, Stuart Bland and Jonathan Clucas have been working round the clock to get everything ready and I'd like to pay tribute to them all for their efforts and hope the riders can repay them for all their hard work this weekend."

<pre> BSB 2004 Dates Mar 28 Silverstone Northamptonshire Apr 12 Brands Hatch Indy Kent Apr 25 Snetterton Norfolk May 3 Oulton Park Cheshire May 23 Mondello Park Ireland Jun 6 Thruxton Hampshire Jun 20 Brands Hatch Kent Jul 4 Knockhill Fife, Scotland Jul 18 Mallory Park Leicestershire Aug 15 Croft North Yorkshire Aug 30 Cadwell Park Lincolnshire Sep 12 Oulton Park Cheshire Sep 19 Donington Park Leicestershire

</pre> CETELEM JOIN FORCES WITH MONSTERMOB DUCATI

Europe's largest retail finance provider Cetelem has joined forces with MonsterMob Ducati for 2004.

Operating in twelve countries and boasting 50 years of experience the French owned company has its British base at Wallington in Surrey and the association with Britain's leading team is Cetelem's first foray into Superbike racing.

"We are incredibly happy to be sponsoring MonsterMob Ducati as they strongly reflect our own company values of commitment, speed, and efficiency. Their passion for the sport and competitiveness in everything they do is a key driver in their success. This is identical for us in the world of retail credit and for these reasons MonsterMob Ducati are the perfect partner for Cetelem in the UK" said Head of Marketing, Adam Fulford.

MonsterMob Ducati team owner Paul Bird said: "We are delighted to welcome Cetelem (UK) on board as they are the sort of company that fits in with our professional image. We pride ourselves in attracting outside sponsors and hopefully this will be the start of another long term relationship."

Cetelem (UK) Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cetelem, Europe's largest retail finance provider. Since its launch in 1999 Cetelem has sustained triple figure growth year on year, and now operates through over 3,000 retail outlets on high streets across the UK including Dixons, Land of Leather, Sofa Company and CIH. Adaptability, price competitiveness, and the adoption of Cetelem's consultative partner approach to service provision are key to Halifax Cetelem's continuing success in the UK.

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Series Other bike
Drivers Steve Hislop , Sean Emmett , Michael Laverty , Paul Bird