Jon Kirkham has dramatically joined the Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki team, replacing young rider Harry Hartley for the remainder of the 2014 MCE British Superbike season, only days after Kirkham parted with the Tsingtao Kawasaki team half way through the Snetterton weekend.
Hartley joined the team at the start of the season as the youngest ever BSB racer, and became the youngest to score points at the opening round at Brands Hatch. However, he failed to race at Snetterton, and confirmed on twitter he has parted ways with the team, citing confidence.
The team have already had issues this season, parting with long time rider Lee Costello after the opening round at Brands Hatch.
Kirkham endured a similar Snetterton weekend to Hartley, riding in the opening practice sessions, but leaving the team before qualifying, allowing a last minute replacement in the form of Peter Hickman. Kirkham similarly took to twitter, explaining that a lack of feeling from the bike and limited testing had saw him walk away.
Speaking after the announcement, team manager Jack Valentine said: “We are disappointed to let Harry go as we believe he has the talent to make it as a top Superbike rider. At this early stage, the team needs stability to ensure we can be consistently in the points and this is a big ask of a young rider with so little experience.”
“Bringing Jon Kirkham into the team was not planned; it was just a coincidence that he became available as we needed a rider. Jon is a good rider who has won races and finished on the podium for me before. He’s had a tough time this season but I think if we can get him back on a competitive bike, we’ll start to see the old Jon Kirkham. He has shown in the past that he is more than capable of top six finishes in BSB and if we can start getting those results, I have no doubt he will be challenging for podiums eventually.”
Experienced team manager Valentine has worked with Kirkham in the past, running him on the Samsung Crescent Suzukis alongside John Hopkins for the 2011 BSB season. Kirkham's move to reunite with Valentine could well leave the door open for a full time ride with Tsingtao Kawasaki for TT fastest newcomer Hickman.