Fresh from the global announcement of two new models, the significantly updated CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP and all new CBR600RR, Honda Racing UK is delighted to announce its plans for the 2024 season and the riders chosen to compete for the Japanese marque in British Championship racing and on the Roads.
In the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, multiple race winner Andrew Irwin continues for his second consecutive year with the team and will be joined by top-ten BSB finisher and road racing sensation Dean Harrison. Both are eager to race the latest Fireblade, which, amongst a host of updates, benefits from improved cornering performance and braking stability as a result of chassis development and MotoGP-derived aerodynamics, whilst further engine evolution has increased mid-range acceleration and top-end power.
Andrew returns for another year with the Honda team after a season of racing severely disrupted by injury. Flashes of brilliant early-season speed were cut short by a significant fracture sustained in a testing crash at Knockhill which resulted in four months on the sidelines. A return late in the year focussed more on long-term progress rather than short-term results. Although a challenging year, Andrew has a fruitful history with Honda having won multiple times on different versions of Fireblade.
The return of the CBR600RR to the European market also sees the factory Honda team enter the British Supersport Championship for the first time since its title-winning year in 2009 as HM Plant Honda. This supersport machine has a hard-won racing pedigree of nine World and six British Supersport championships, and this heritage requires a rider of equal stature. So, joining the team for the 2024 campaign will be the most decorated supersport rider in the series’ history, four times British champion and fifty-nine times race winner, Jack Kennedy.
In 2024 Honda will continue to showcase its commitment to the International Road Racing series at both the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT Races. Complementing his short-circuit BSB programme, 2019 Senior TT winner and multiple NW200 podium finisher Dean Harrison is set to embark on an exciting new chapter as he joins Honda for the first time in a career that has brought him three TT wins, twenty-six TT podiums and a reputation as one of the fastest ever road racers.
Joining him in the road racing lineup, none other than road racing royalty John McGuinness MBE continues with Honda, the manufacturer with which his history is intertwined. Heading into what will be John’s thirty-fourth season of motorcycle racing, he now has a remarkable one hundred and eight TT starts to his name, eighty on board a Honda. Still setting 130mph laps and still a fan favourite, Honda and McGuinness will keep writing new memories together.
And finally, in an expanded road racing lineup, Nathan Harrison returns for a second year with the Louth-based team, this time to race solely on the roads. His 2023 debut year didn’t quite go to plan as an injury sustained in a crash at the NW200 ruled him out of competing in many races, albeit he did score his debut points in the Pirelli National Superstock series whilst riding for the team. 2024 therefore, will in effect be his first full year racing for the Honda factory team on the Isle of Man roads that he grew up on.
This powerhouse Honda roads lineup will see Dean and Nathan competing in Superbike, Superstock and Supersport categories at both the NW200 and the TT. John, meanwhile, will focus on the big bike classes of Superbike and Superstock.
All five Honda Racing UK riders will be in attendance at Motorcycle Live on Sunday 19th November for ‘BSB Day’ ahead of the start of their respective 2024 season preparations. The Bennetts British Superbike Championship then begins in Spain at the Circuito de Navarra for round one on 20 – 21 April following a comprehensive pre-season testing program.
For a full 2024 calendar please click here.
Havier Beltran – Team Manager, Honda Racing UK
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 lineup 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 lineup 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
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. No other manufacturer delivers the same level of commitment to racing as Honda, and we at Honda UK are extremely proud to be a part of that racing commitment. 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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.