BSB: Franco Bourne to make debut at Snetterton with Honda Racing UK

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Franco Bourne will make his Bennetts British Superbike Championship debut this weekend at Snetterton after joining Honda Racing UK.

Bourne, one of Britain’s brightest prospects, is stepping in for Andrew Irwin, who remains on the sidelines after fracturing his right humerus in an incident at the Knockhill test last month. Irwin’s return date is currently unknown due to the severity of the injury.

The 19-year-old stepped up onto a big bike for the first time this year, riding the Honda Fireblade in Superstock trim for Marvel HCL Motorsport.

Bourne podiumed in his maiden race, before winning his second at Silverstone. The 2020 British Talent Cup Champion is third in the championship with three podiums.

Bourne completed a shakedown test onboard the Fireblade at Cadwell Park last week.

“I came onto the Honda Fireblade in Superstock off the back of riding a bike that I really struggled with, so the adaptation has been great,” Bourne said.

“I gelled with it as a bike immediately even though everything was so new, the chassis, the brakes, the power, and the slick tyres. But it’s a bike that I adapted to very quickly. I think this will stand me in good stead with racing the Superbike. 

“I think the fact that riding a Superstock is so new will help me to adapt again as the Superbike just does everything that the Superstock bike does, but it does it that little bit better. I know there is a lot of learning to do, the bike is definitely more physical to ride too, and I didn’t push too much, so I’m excited to see what we can do.”

Havier Beltran with Franco Bourne

Prior to his lightening start in the Superstock class, Bourne finished second overall in the Junior Superstock Championship behind Cheshire Mouldings Kawasaki’s Max Cook. Bourne ended 2022 with four victories to his name.

“I have kept an eye on Franco for many years and I have been impressed by his natural talent since our first introduction back in 2012 through the Bikewise initiative,” Honda Racing UK Team Manager, Havier Beltran added. “Watching his progression year after year has been fantastic to witness and I am excited to see what he can achieve riding our Superbike.

“I would also like to thank Franco’s current team manager Matt Bainbridge and all of the team at Marvel HCL Motorsport for helping to facilitate this opportunity. I look forward to seeing Franco showcase his potential and continue his development.”

Tito Rabat will also be on the BSB grid at Snetterton with McAMS Yamaha. The Spaniard, who made his BSB debut at Thruxton last season, will race for the team at Brands Hatch as well following Tim Neave’s decision to take time away from motorcycle racing.