Friday, October 15

TEN KATE BACKING CONFIRMED

By Michael Esdaile

THE Netherlands-based Ten Kate Honda team’s budget concerns have just been eased with the announcement that Honda Motor Europe has finalised a new three-year agreement to support the team in the HANNspree Superbike World Championship.Ten Kate and Honda have enjoyed a more than decade long collaboration that has brought them nine world championship titles – eight in World Supersport and one in World Superbike.

“This new three-year agreement will enable us to continue with our technical development, our rider programme and to maintain a strong team structure,” team principal Ronald Ten Kate said in a prepared statement. “In the next few weeks we will finalise those three ingredients to prepare for the future.”

Irishman Jonathan Rea has just finished his second year of a three year contract to race in the Superbike class with the team but there is plenty of speculation as to who will join him in 2011.

There is also speculation that the Ten Kate Honda team may lose its newly crowned Supersport World Champion to the Moto2 GP class.

This has been sparked by Turkish rider Kenan Sofuoglu agreeing to ride the Technomag CIP team’s Suter machine in the final two Moto2 championship races of the 2010 season, at Estoril in Portugal and Valencia in Spain.

The Technomag Moto2 team ran Japanese rider Shoya Tomizawa, who won the opening race of the season at Qatar and was killed at Misano.

Naturally the English motorcycle web sites are in overdrive that this means Sofuoglu is wanting a full-time Moto2 ride in 2011. However, it may be worth remembering that this will not be the first time the two-time Supersport World Champion has tried a Moto2 bike. He tried a couple earlier in the year, and was not exactly complimentary about their handling capabilities. The straight-shooting Turk described them as "like badly set up World Supersport machines."

Anyone who has studied the lap times of the two classes at the same tracks would probably come to the same conclusion.