BSB: Ryo Mizuno joins Glenn Irwin at Honda Racing UK
Honda Racing UK has signed young Japanese rider Ryo Mizuno after embarking on a brand-new project with Honda Motor Company Ltd.
The team has joined forces with Honda's head office in Japan, whilst the Honda Superbike Challenge Programme will support racers competing in national championships around the globe in order to help them progress in their careers.
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As a result, Honda Racing UK's Bennetts British Superbike project has become a part of Honda's global racing activity - alongside MotoGP, World Superbike and the All-Japan Championship.
Mizuno joins the British championship as a member of the new programme and has previously enjoyed plenty of success in Japan. The 22-year-old won the All-Japan J-GP3 Championship in 2015, before securing the GP2 title two years later.
Mizuno also rode for Honda at the 2019 Suzuka 8-Hour endurance event alongside Dominique Aegerter and former Honda BSB rider Xavi Fores, whilst he’s also made one-off appearances in Moto3 and Moto2.
"I’m really looking forward to this new challenge, signing a deal with Honda Racing UK team to ride the new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP in the British championship," Mizuno said. "Thanks to all my family, friends and personal sponsors. I can't wait to get started and hope to have a lot of success in front of our fans later this year.”
Mizuno, who hasn’t raced in the UK before, will be hoping to one-day follow in the footsteps of fellow Japanese racer Ryuichi Kiyonari, who won three BSB titles with Honda between 2006 and 2010.
"This is a very exciting time for Honda Racing UK joining forces with Honda Motor Co., Ltd and will be great to have their support in what are uncertain times for everyone and not just in the racing world," team manager Havier Beltran commented. "Our participation in BSB will now sit within Honda's global two-wheel racing programme, which echoes past years when we had backing from HRC.
"It's a great project to be involved with and we of course have a very good track record with Japanese riders, Kiyo won the title three times with us and Ryo brings a huge amount of experience and also talent with him. His lap times at the Suzuka 8 Hours last year were impressive and although the British circuits are very different, I think he will enjoy them and be competitive on the Fireblade SP.”
Glenn Irwin remains with the team after enjoying a fantastic season on the all-new Honda Fireblade last year. Irwin ended his campaign fourth overall having taken one victory and five further podiums throughout the year.
Irwin's consistency in the early stages of the season - finishing no lower than fourth in the opening nine races - saw him lead the standings for the majority of the season.
“I’m really happy to continue with Honda Racing and to carry on the development of the new Fireblade," Irwin said. "2020 was a really refreshing year that perhaps brought success earlier than I anticipated. For 2021 we have extensive development to go through which for sure will improve our package further. That said, there won’t be any room for complacency which I have experienced before, so we won’t be making bold predictions from a results perspective.
"As a team we know from the work carried out over the winter, we have a strong base to continue developing the Fireblade. Working with Ryo is exciting in itself, with Ryo coming from a completely different racing background. I am excited to see how his feedback improves us.”
Honda Racing UK has also confirmed that Tom Neave will once again represent the team in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship. Like Irwin in the Superbike class, Neave quickly adapted the new Fireblade and was a genuine title contender throughout the year.
Neave eventually finished as runner-up to Chrissy Rouse (+26 points) after taking four victories and a further two podiums in 2020.
“I’m delighted to be going into my third season with Honda Racing," Neave said. "My ultimate aim is to be on the Superbike, but I think it’s important that I complete another full year on the Superstock Fireblade to refine and build on everything we learnt last season.
"We had a strong year and finishing as runner-up has motivated me more than ever to claim that number one. I’m so grateful to Honda and all my sponsors for sticking by me and I can’t wait to get 2021 underway!”
The 2021 BSB season is due to begin at Oulton Park on the second May Bank Holiday Weekend (May 29-31). Testing begins at Donington Park on April 13.