Northern Irish rider Jonathan Rea begins year number four with the Ten Kate Honda World Superbike team.
The Ten Kate Honda team returns for 2012 as the Honda World Superbike Team (2011 title sponsor Castrol is now a secondary sponsor). Once again Jonathan Rea anchors the squad, joined this year by GP émigré Hiroshi Aoyama. The team will compete on the 2012 CBR 1000RR, with the production model getting a modest refresh in the off-season (read more in our 2012 Honda CBR1000RR First Ride Review).
Honda World Superbike Team
The upcoming season is Rea’s fourth SBK campaign, all with Honda. His 2011 campaign was marred by injury, breaking his arm at Misano during warm-up for the Round 6 doubleheader. Even when healthy, the Castrol squad struggled at times during the year, although Rea did deliver a pair of wins and five podiums. However, Rea more than doubled those win and podium tallies during his sophomore season. Rea’s already shown race-winning talent, but consistency over an entire year has been proven more elusive. Yet the Ten Kate Honda has traditionally been a title-contending ride, so the feisty rider from Northern Ireland is a definite contender for 2012.
The top three riders in the 2011 championship prove GP riders can find success in the SBK ranks. Not only that, many of the MotoGP immigrants find success immediately upon entry. Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri all won races in their “rookie” Superbike campaigns (in fact, Biaggi won his first-ever SBK race). The latest GP refugee, Aoyama is an unknown for the 2012 series. Early testing results don’t indicate dominance from the lone Japanese rider on the SBK grid. That said, Aoyama proved a consistent top-10 points gatherer during his short MotoGP tenure – a positive sign for 2012.
The Honda cause has long been a solo effort by the Ten Kate crew, but this year will see another full-timer piloting the CBR. Former 250 and Moto2 rider Raffaele De Rosa will campaign for the Italian-based Pro Ride Motorsports team.
- Top Rider – Top Rider – Jonathan Rea
- Top Team – Honda World Superbike Team
- Dark Horse – Hiroshi Aoyama
2012 Honda SBK Roster:
#4 Hiroshi Aoyama – Honda World Superbike Team
#35 Raffaele De Rosa – Pro Ride Motorsports
#65 Jonathan Rea – Honda World Superbike Team