MotoGP Exclusive: Legend John Surtees to spearhead new GP team

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A new 125GP team spearheaded by British motorsport legend John Surtees will be officially unveiled in Shanghai on Friday, MCN can exclusively reveal.

Icon Surtees, who holds the unique distinction of being the only man in history to win the MotoGP and Formula One world championship double, has been a key figure in the formation of the new squad, the name of which will be unveiled at this weekend’s China MotoGP.

Three years in the making, the new British squad has called on a wealth of experience to get off the ground, and has been formed in conjunction with a major Chinese motorcycle manufacturer.

As well as John Surtees, one of the major driving forces behind the project is Garry Taylor, who was boss of Suzuki’s factory MotoGP effort for nearly 30 years before he stepped down in 2004.

Taylor has used his network of influential contacts to get two-stroke engine specialist Jan Witteveen to design and build the new motor, while British experts Harris Performance have built the chassis.

Witteveen was the man who helped turn Aprilia into the major racing force it is today, while Harris Performance used to run its own MotoGP squad in the 1990s.

The new bike has already successfully completed dyno testing and track testing is expected to commence within the next month in the UK.

The remainder of 2008 will be used as an extensive testing campaign with the team entering the 125GP series full-time from the beginning of 2009.

An experienced rider will be used to carry out initial testing and development on the bike, though Taylor refused to reveal the identity of the chosen rider.

The new team is another massive boost for British MotoGP fans, coming on the back of James Toseland’s successful move from World Superbikes, and young talents like Bradley Smith, Danny Webb and Scott Redding carving out big reputations for themselves in the 125 world championship.

Taylor told MCN: “I don’t want to be drawn on too much, but all will be revealed on Friday. What I can say is that this is another major boost for Britain in world championship racing.

“A lot of time and effort has gone into this project, and all involved are determined to make it a success. It is a triumph for British know-how in racing.”

Surtees will attend Friday’s team launch in China.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt