World Superbikes: Ten Kate Honda nears 2008 rider choice
Ronald Ten Kate is expected to decide in the next few days which rider will join his number one World Superbike squad next year to replace James Toseland.
It is a given that reigning British superbike champion Ryuichi Kiyonari will get the other bike in the team, with Kenan Sofuoglu moving up from World Supersport to ride a third ‘satellite’ Fireblade.
The riders in the frame are Andrew Pitt, Carlos Checa, Alex Barros, and Ruben Xaus – with Andrew Pitt leading the chase because of his development experience and good relationship with Ten Kate riding as a stand-in for the supersport team this year.
The team have also got one World Supersport ride left too, alongside Jonathan Rea.
Here Ten Kate talks about next year’s team set up.
He explained: “We are not in such a big rush and before we can announce anything some personal meetings would have to take place.
“A rider like Andrew Pitt could fit in either the WSB or WSS side of the garage. Pitt can bring his years of experience in this championship.
“He knows all the tracks and he’s ridden them on top machinery and he is a little bit younger than some of the other candidates on the list. He is for sure a hungry man and we have seen him at work in the two WSS races he did for us.
“For me he was impressively quick as he has no testing and at the Assen round he wasn’t even on the official bike with any data logging.
“Andrew did a lot of work on the Yamaha in 2006 whilst Nori spent time in the garage. He did a lot of laps developing the traction control plus he’s been testing the MotoGP bike for Yamaha.
“Checa is also being considered and one reason for this is of his performance at the Suzuka Eight Hour. He is a very experienced guy because of all the different machinery he has been on. For the moment these are the only guys I want to discuss but there is at least one other one.”
“Kenan has signed for three years, which we are really happy about.
He has a lot to learn but for sure he will be very exciting on a Superbike.
“He works well with the team and if he continues to show the determination and commitment he has done so far in the last two years in the team I think he can be very fast.
“To be able to sign a young rider like this for three years is important because this way our future and his future is pretty clear.
“It is difficult for Sebastien Charpentier at the moment. In Germany he began the race well but when he suffered a little drop in grip there was a big drop off in his performance.
“During the last three years we have had a wonderful relationship with him and it is our strongest wish for him to be able to stay. He has shown strong loyalty to Honda and to us, which is important.
“Whatever happens next year I believe we will have a very strong team. We have high confidence with our new signing Jonathan Rea however we feel the need to have a potential championship winner next to him, as this would also take the pressure away.”