Honda Motor Europe has announced the Honda TT Legends stand-in rider line-up for the second round of the 2012 Endurance World Championship, which takes place at the same time as the team’s namesake event, the Isle of Man TT. Samsung Honda riders Michael Laverty and Jason O’Halloran will team up with former British Superbike champion Ryuichi Kiyonari for the 8-hours of Doha in Qatar on 10 June.
Kiyonari is no stranger to endurance racing, having won the legendary Suzuka 8-hour race in Japan four times. The Japanese rider – who is currently competing in the Asia Road Racing Championship with the Musashi Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia team – has achieved many of his career highlights aboard the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. This includes all four Suzuka victories and the three championship titles he won with Honda (UK) Racing’s BSB outfit, which is run from the same UK base as the Honda TT Legends.
Laverty is one half of the Samsung Honda BSB line-up for 2012 and O’Halloran competes in British Superstock for the same team. While Laverty is new to endurance racing, O’Halloran has competed in the Suzuka 8-hour and both riders are already familiar with the 2012-spec Fireblade. They are now looking forward to stepping up to the challenge on behalf of the Honda TT Legends.
Neil Tuxworth With all four of our regular riders taking part in the Isle of Man TT, we decided that the best solution for the 8-hours of Doha was to select current Honda riders to form a stand-in team. Kiyo knows the circuit and has worked with many of our crew members before, while Michael and Jason are in the 2012 BSB squad so feel at home on the Fireblade. I’m sure that the decision will stand the team in good stead for the Qatar race, giving us one of the strongest line-ups at the event.
Ryiuchi Kiyonari I want to thank Honda for giving me this opportunity. I have won the Suzuka 8-hour four times now, and Qatar is not a new course for me, so all I am thinking is winning the race for the team. I hope that we can achieve this.
Michael Laverty I’m really looking forward to the experience, especially racing alongside Kiyo who has had so much success at Suzuka. I’ve never done an endurance race before and I’ve never been to Qatar but racing in the desert should be good fun. I don’t have any expectations on the result, but it would be nice to put in a good performance under the Honda TT Legends banner while the boys are at the TT.
Jason O’Halloran I did the Suzuka 8-hour in 2008 and really enjoyed the experience. Endurance racing is not something I’ve focused on in my career, but it’s great to get this opportunity with Honda and fill in for the regular guys while they’re on TT duty. I’m really looking forward to riding with Kiyo and Michael – they’re two riders of great pedigree and I think we’re in with a good chance of getting a decent result. I’ve never ridden at Qatar before but it looks like a great circuit and I can’t wait for the whole experience.
As Kiyonari, Laverty and O’Halloran take on the 8-hours of Doha, regular Honda TT Legends riders John McGuinness, Simon Andrews, Cameron Donald and Gary Johnson will all be taking part in the Isle of Man TT. McGuinness and Andrews will form a two-man squad for the Honda TT Legends, while Donald and Johnson will compete for Wilson Craig Honda and Padgetts of Batley respectively.