Harry Hartley will become the youngest ever MCE British Superbike racer this season, with the youngster making the jump from National Superstock 600 to the superbike class with Bolton based Halsall Kawasaki.
Hartley will join Lee Costello, who scored a remarkable podium place at the season finale at Brands Hatch, as the team look to captialise on an impressive debut BSB season.
The signing of the rookie will come as a surprise to many in the paddock, but securing top quality talent from within British racing is a key objective of team boss Martin Halsall, who sees it as key to the future of the sport.
"As a team we are also focused on bringing young contenders to the championship and developing them to become Superbike riders of the future and at 17 when the season starts, Harry will be the youngest ever rider to feature on the MCE BSB grid. If you look at someone like Marc Marquez he is a world champion at the age of just 20 and that is because of the route and opportunities that he has been given and Halsall Racing want to be part of helping our young riders rise through the ranks here in the UK.”
Hartley said: "This is a really big opportunity for me and I need to thank Halsall Racing for making this ambition become a reality. I am going to take this year as it comes because I don't want to overwhelm myself at the first round; I used to watch Hopper for example race in MotoGP so to be on the same grid as some of the other Superbike riders is exciting, but I know I have a lot to learn at the same time. It is fantastic to be joining such a professional team in the Championship and after the results they achieved last year I really hope that I can learn a lot from them and develop as a rider."
Halsall concluded: "I am very excited about the season ahead. As a team we have remained committed to Lee and after a steep learning curve last year he now has the experience to build on - hopefully we can see a few more performances like that final round at Brands Hatch!”