Speculation over Ryo Mizuno riding for Honda in the 2021 BSB championship was confirmed today. The former J-GP3 (think Moto3) and J-GP2 (think Moto2) champion will be racing in the UK series for the first time, alongside Glenn Irwin. Glenn’s first year on the new Honda in 2020 went well, a win and five podiums doesn’t do his season justice. He lead the championship with real maturity, entertained race fans and gelled with the Fireblade.
Honda Racing UK (the team) will sit under the SuperBike Challenge Programme, which aims to help develop all of the riders involved from various national championships worldwide. It’s reasonable to assume that this should also mean improvements in development of the Fireblade.
Running a Japanese rider in BSB has worked in the past, Ryuichi Kiyonari won the championship in 2006, 2007 and 2010. In development terms, having an incredibly fast rider that has Japanese as a first language is a huge benefit to Honda and the Fireblade.
Havier Beltran – Honda Racing UK Team Manager: “This is a very exciting time for Honda Racing UK joining forces with Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and will be great to have their support in what are uncertain times for everyone and not just in the racing world. Our participation in BSB will now sit within Honda’s global two-wheel racing programme, which echoes past years when we had backing from HRC. It’s a great project to be involved with and we of course have a very good track record with Japanese riders, Kiyo won the title three times with us and Ryo brings a huge amount of experience and also talent with him. His lap times at the Suzuka 8 Hours last year were impressive and although the British circuits are very different, I think he will enjoy them and be competitive on the Fireblade SP.”
The challenging times that Harv’ mentions above have meant some tweaks to the rest of the team. The superstock bike will be piloted by Tom Neave on the Fireblade SP. Tom finished runner up in the series in 2020, winning more races than any other rider in his first year on the newbike. It’s fair to assume that he’ll carry on where he left off. COVID and Lockdown means that the 2021 road racing programme is pretty much none existent. The knock on effect of this is that Tom’s 2020 teammate and road racing star of the future, Davey Todd, doesn’t feature in the Honda Racing UK plan for this year. Davey finished the 2020 Superstock championship in 12th position, but it was at the TT where he was expected to shine. It’s an uncomfortable position for Honda to be in, but the fact that they’re even fielding a three rider setup across two different classes this year is testament to Honda UK’s continued dedication to racing.
Neil Fletcher – Head of Motorcycles, Honda UK: “We’ve been working on this project with Honda Japan for some time and I am very excited to see it happening. The British championship is intensely competitive and to have Ryo joining the team and coming to the series is a positive for everyone involved. Honda take great pride in developing young riders, whether it’s getting people on two wheels on the road or nurturing and developing young talent through racing. The Honda British Talent Cup is a hugely successful programme designed to get racers into MotoGP, so with the Honda Superbike Challenge Program we can also target Superbike championships across the world. I’m excited for the 2021 season and to see Ryo, Glenn and Tom in action.”
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