After looking like they would be forced to quit the World Supersport Championship in 2011 due to a lack of budget, the Dutch Ten Kate Honda squad have confirmed they will run a two man team with Taiwanese electronics giant Hannspree remaining as title sponsor.
The reigning World Supersport champions will run an all French rider line-up of former champion Fabien Foret and Superstock 600 runner up Florian Marino.
Foret, 37 returns to the Ten Kate Honda team for the first time since winning the World Supersport championship in 2002 – the first of eight WSS crowns for the Dutch squad. The hard charging Frenchman has been a front-runner in the series for a decade with a total of 116 races 12 race wins and 27 podium finishes.
He said: “This is a great news for me and I’m really looking forward to this season. It's such a good feeling to come back into the Ten Kate family – we know each other pretty well now and I have the same motivation end determination as in 2002. I hope obviously to enjoy my bike and my team and have some great moments again together. I have watched the development of the CBR600RR over the years and it remains the bike to be on because it has won so many championships. My own targets for the year are a personal thing, but when you are in the Ten Kate Honda team you probably have quite a good idea of why you're there! I am training every day and getting ready for some testing in Aragon and Portimao at the end of this month and I really can't wait to jump on my bike now.”
Marino, meanwhile, has only recently embarked on his professional racing career, having finished as runner-up in last year’s European Superstock 600 series with the Ten Kate Junior team. The 17-year-old won three races in 2010 and has been deemed ready by the team to step up to world championship level.
He said: “It’s still a dream, and I find it very difficult to find the words to describe my feelings. I first spoke with Gerrit ten Kate about this possibility at the last race at Magny-Cours, but I was so happy when we were finally able to sign at the end of December. It was the best Christmas present I ever had! This year is really a learning year for me, because although I know many of the circuits, World Supersport will be a different level and a different way of working. But, of course, if I have the opportunity to win in 2011, I won’t wait! I have been training very hard to prepare for this year but there is no pressure on me and I want to enjoy my learning experience – especially at fast circuits like Assen and Monza!”
Team boss Ronald ten Kate added “We are, of course, very happy to continue our partnership with Hannspree into 2011. I think we have a perfect match of riders for next season with young Florian Marino and a very experienced rider like Fabien. Of course, we still remember clearly our first world title that Fabien won with us in 2002, so you might call it déjà vu. We’d like to thank Hannspree and, in particular, Lukas Chong, for their continued support of our racing programme for 2011 – we believe that we have another winning team and we aim to repay Hannspree’s confidence in us with more race victories and hopefully another world title.”