Honda aims high with 2024 BSB, Isle of Man TT signings

Honda Racing UK has announced its 2024 rider line-up, with two new signings arriving to the team alongside three riders retained from 2023

Honda aims high with 2024 BSB, Isle of Man TT signings

Honda’s 2024 line-up for the British Superbike Championship and major road races - including the Isle of Man TT and Northwest 200 - has been announced, with Dean Harrison and Jack Kennedy joining the line-up.

Harrison and Kennedy join three riders retained from 2023, with Andrew Irwin being kept on for British Superbikes, and John McGuinness and Nathan Harrison remaining with the team on the road racing side of things.

Both of Honda’s new signings are of interest, with Kennedy jumping back into the British Supersport class on the returning-for-2024 Honda CBR600RR and in search of an historic fifth title in the category. On the other hand, Dean Harrison is one of the three elite riders of the last few years at the Isle of Man, alongside Michael Dunlop and Peter Hickman. There was a sense that Harrison’s potential was somewhat untapped with Kawasaki in the last few years, but, with Dunlop proving the Honda is a winning package around the TT Mountain Course in 2023, a step forward is expected for the winner of the 2018 Senior TT.

Additionally, there is anticipation around Andrew Irwin after he showed flashes in 2023, but had his season ruined by injuries; and the case is similar for Nathan Harrison, who finished in the top 10 of his first Senior TT back in 2022, but who was unable to compete on the Isle of Man this year due to injury. Of course, there is always intrigue surrounding John McGuinness at the Isle of Man, but perhaps more this year than for a while, as he showed his fastest pace in six years at the 2023 race, re-entering the 130mph+ group.

Additional details in Honda’s 2024 plans include that Dean Harrison will contest the full 2024 BSB season with Honda in place of Tom Neave, who announced yesterday that he would be leaving the team after five years and a National Superstock title.

On the superstock topic, Nathan Harrison will once again be racing the National Superstock class in BSB in his own team.

Quotes from the riders - as well as Honda Racing UK Team Manager, Havier Beltran, and Honda UK Head of Motorcycles, Neil Fletcher - are below.

Andrew Irwin said: “I am looking forward to 2024 with the new Fireblade, I think this bike is going to give us a step forward and I can’t wait to race it. The bike is already more than capable of doing the job so to see improvements is hugely motivating. Continuing for another year with Honda has always been my priority and I want to put 2023 behind me and focus all of my attention and energy on 2024. 

“I am under no illusions that I need to have a good season, I am going into 2024 to rebuild my career after a very difficult 2023, and I want to come back and be fast and always be there fighting. Consistency is what works and getting to maintain that for another year with Honda is crucial to building some momentum. Sometimes a break is as good as anything and I’ve had a long old break. I'm hungry, I’m motivated and I’m eager to get going again.”

Dean Harrison said: “I can’t wait to begin a new chapter with Honda Racing UK and I jumped at the chance when this opportunity came about. If I'm honest, it hasn’t sunk in yet and I don’t think it will until I get to ride the bike for the first time in Honda colours. It feels like a really good time to have a refresh and now is as good a time as any for a change. I have always been a Honda fan, and Honda is the way I want to go. I am also really looking forward to being part of a multi-rider team after riding in a solo team for so long. 

“To be able to see each other's data and collaborate on ideas is going to be of great value to me. The short circuits are a big part of my season and I think that working with Andrew and the team will help to bring me on and push me to the next level. Then on the roads, to work with John and Nathan, both of whom I have a great working relationship with, is really exciting. I think that the Honda package, with the new bike, could be the missing link that I need. “

Jack Kennedy said: “I am super excited to join this Honda project and return to Supersport, I have full confidence that the factory Honda team is the team to provide me with the best Honda CBR600RR. I have never run with a factory team before, so this opportunity is fantastic, it’s a super professional outfit and I am looking forward to getting going and beginning to develop this project. 

“To ride for the factory Honda team with the chance to progress if I do the job I think I am capable of doing is super motivating. There’s a lot of excitement around this new CBR which is great to see. The targets are clear, we are there to win. It’s hard not to ignore the pressure of this, it is a factory team and I’ve performed in this class before, but I will take it all on board and I will handle it like I have always done. I will go out there and do my best to deliver results for myself and the team. 

John McGuinness MBE said: “I can’t wait to get going again for another year! Honda, Harv and the team have shown such trust and loyalty, and it only feels right to continue for another year, I still love putting a helmet on and racing around the track. Everyone around me, at Honda, my sponsors and my family are all really happy for me to be here, to be out there flying the flag and I’m proud that I get to continue. 

“I’m still going around and doing 131 [mph] and I’m going to carry on while I have good people, good products and a good team. I’m looking forward to working with my new teammates and getting stuck into a testing program with a new Fireblade. It’s always nice to get your teeth into something new, so I’m keen to get stuck in, it’s not often that Honda goes backwards!”

Nathan Harrison said: “I couldn’t be happier to remain with Honda for another year. I was over the moon when I signed for the team last year and it was a dream come true, but unfortunately, things just didn't align last year, we had a good start and I was flying at the NW200 before I came off. But I always look to draw the positives and try to learn from them and now I have another year to show what I’m capable of. I’ve seen how the team works and I’ve built a really strong working relationship with everyone, I know what I have to do and how to try and get the best out of everything. I can’t thank Havier and the team enough for giving me another shot and I can’t wait to get going again.”

Havier Beltran - Team Manager, Honda Racing UK - said: “I am delighted to welcome all of our riders, those returning and joining us for the 2024 season. It is certainly going to be an extremely exciting year for Honda with our expanded rider line-up and growth into a variety of racing classes on both the roads and on the short circuits in BSB. Retaining Andrew’s services was a priority as we never really got the chance to showcase what he is capable of this year. He is a Honda winner and he has all the potential to be a winner once more with this new Fireblade. Dean is also more than capable of strong results in this series and we welcome him into the team.

“Returning to British Supersport with the Honda CBR600RR and a rider of Jack Kennedy’s calibre is also thoroughly exciting, we return to this series with championship-winning ambition. Jack is a rider of exceptional talent and I can see that he is going to be a valuable team member.

“With regards to the roads, I truly believe that our road racing line-up perfectly balances youthful enthusiasm, experience, talent and ambition, and I eagerly look forward to witnessing Dean, John and Nathan compete with these new models. Dean is one of the most compelling riders to witness on the roads and I am confident that we can provide him with the machinery to showcase his remarkable talents. 

“Keeping John for another year is simply brilliant, he and Honda share so much history and he brings so much to this team that continuing for another year was a very easy decision to make. 2023 was a tough year for Nathan but he never lost his determination or the smile on his face. This was always about progression, building into things and taking our time to grow together, continuing that journey with him will be fantastic.”

Neil Fletcher - Head of Motorcycles, Honda UK - added: “It is with great excitement that I look forward to 2024 and our racing endeavours in the British Supersport series alongside our dedication to Superbikes and racing on the roads. In each of these categories, Honda has enormous potential with new and updated models - the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP and the CBR600RR - both are no strangers to race circuits and championships around the globe. 

“I welcome Dean and Jack into the fold as well as the return of familiar faces in Andrew, John and Nathan. We are targeting a return to the front, to put these models back where they belong on the top step of the podium. I firmly believe that we have the personnel, the infrastructure and the potential to do just that.”