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Moriwaki Althea Honda WorldSBK challenger finally unveiled

The highly-anticipated unveiling of the new Moriwaki Althea Honda team has taken place at Phillip Island

The highly-anticipated unveiling of the new Moriwaki Althea Honda team has taken place at Phillip Island ahead of the final pre-season test for the 2019 World Superbike championship.

Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari were on hand to reveal the new-look squad, supported by HRC and run in a joint-venture by Moriwaki and Althea, after the Japanese manufacturer cut ties to Ten Kate Racing last year.

The team has exclusively tested in Asia at private events, the only team not to take part in January’s official World Superbike tests in Jerez and Portimao, leaving plenty of intrigue about the new squad’s potential.

In a presentation a short distance from the Phillip Island circuit, the two riders helped reveal the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 alongside Motorcycle Department Manager of Motor Sports Division of Honda Soichi Yamana, team director Midori Moriwaki and team manager Genesio Bevilacqua.

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“Honda has competed in WSBK since the beginning and the series has allowed us to develop higher performance products and provide further feedback to develop new machines,” Yamana said. “This feedback loop has given Honda many victories and championships, both when we competed with Factory Teams and also when we decided to continue our campaign under the guidance of satellite teams from 2003.

“Today another chapter begins. This year we have strengthen our project in WSBK, and aim to reach greater heights with our new partners Moriwaki and Althea. Moriwaki, as we all know, is a team with an outstanding track record. Althea Racing is also a team that knows how to win races, and has been a partner of Moriwaki for many years.

“As riders, we have Leon Camier who has repeatedly shown his potential in WSBK racing, and Ryuichi Kiyonari, a superbike specialist. I believe that as our riders gain experience, they will lead the team in the right direction.”

The new line-up signals a return to World Superbikes for Kiyonari for his first full season in a decade having contested two campaigns for Honda in 2008 and 2009. The Japanese rider has three British Superbike titles, plus two titles from competing in his home nation and Asia, while he’s also a three-time World Superbike race-winner.

“I am very excited to have this opportunity to return to World Superbike and I thank Honda, Moriwaki and Althea for putting their trust in me,” Kiyonari said. “A lot has changed since I was last in the championship, in 2009, and I think the level is now a lot higher with many fast riders.

“Having said that, I have worked hard in recent years and hope I can continue to grow this season with my new bike and new team; I am very motivated and believe we can work together to achieve some good results.”

Camier, who has competed for the official Honda squad for the past two seasons, is the only major continuity from last year’s team and is relishing a new challenge.

“It’s a real honour to be involved in this project with the support of Honda, and the experience of both Moriwaki and Althea,” Camier said. “It’s all new of course, and that means we have a lot of work ahead of us, but I think we have good potential and I’m excited to see what we can do.

“It will be good to get out on track with our rivals this week and understand where we are. There is a lot to work on as I’ve said, the bike having been developed in a different championship, but we’re ready for the challenge. Our main goal is to improve race by race.”

The Moriwaki Athea Honda squad will take part in the two-day pre-season test at Phillip Island this week in preparation for the 2019 season opener at the Australian track on February 22-24.

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