World Superbike boys and Danny Webb star at LMS
01 February 2009 17:34
No less than six stars were at the London Motorcycle Show's celebrity interviews on the MCN Live! stage today with the World Superbike paddock taking over much of the proceedings.
Shane Byrne, Leon Haslam, Jonathan Rea and Tommy Hill were joined by World Supersport rider Eugene Laverty while 215GP star Danny Webb made an unexpected appearance on stage too.
Hill was first on stage in front of hundreds of racing fans and is just praying for an injury free season after breaking his right femur twice last year. But he is back with the Hannspree Honda Althea team and has been promoted to a full World Superbike ride.
The 23-year-old said: "I'm back to full fitness now, it's taken a long time with the two injuries and at the end of last season I wondered what I was going to be doing this year if I'd be back out with my old man building or back out racing.
I've picked the worst season to move into the championship with Shakey (Byrne) raising the bar already in testing."
Eugene Laverty has moved from the 250GP championship to join the Parkalgar team in World Supersport. He will also be racing against his old rival Cal Crutchlow, who he competed against in the British Supersport championship.
He said: "When I moved for 2007 to GP it was a big jump and it was like I had disappeared. Now I'm with Parkalgar and I've got big shoes to fill with Craig Jones doing so well for them."
Leon Haslam made his second appearance of the weekend. The 25-year-old believes the World Superbike season is going to be a great one.
"What a year to be in World Superbikes," he said. "There's going to be five British guys who all have the talent to be on the podium. I'm sure one of us will be on the podium every week."
Another of last year's world Supersport riders to be promoted by his team to the superbike scene is Hannspree Ten Kate Honda's Jonathan Rea and he's already looking forward to taking on Haslam just as he did in British Superbikes two years ago.
He added: "I got criticised for going to World Supersport last year but I've got to know the circuits now and I can keep pushing to improve the bike. We haven't really had a break like the GP boys do as I went testing in South Africa in November then was on the ABS Fireblade launch, got home for a quick family Christmas and then I was back out testing again."
The biggest cheer of the afternoon was for Shane Byrne, who's also made the move to WSB with Sterilgarda Ducati and has already been in impressive form on the 1098R. He does still have some heroes lining up against him on the grid though and is excited about the prospect of racing against them again.
Byrne said: "We all tested in Portugal and for me the test was really good and the names of the guys that were behind me like (Max) Biaggi and (Noriyuki) Haga was incredible. I was riding around for about seven laps with Haga and thought that's quite cool. There's a lot of legends out there but my job is to go out and be top of the pile."
Danny Webb was the unexpected guest on stage but the 17-year-old spoke confidently about his plans with the factory backed Aprilia Degraaf team.
Webb said: "In 2008 I went really well and had a few fastest laps at a few tracks but then got some injuries which held me back but I'm lucky to have a factory ride for 2009."