After one year competing for Honda-Racing.co.uk in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Karl Harris has been signed by HM Plant Honda Racing for the same series in 2006. The 25-year-old Yorkshireman will be joined by Japanese rider Ryuichi Kiyonari on the HRC-prepared CBR1000RR Fireblades for the team's third consecutive assault on the world's leading domestic Superbike championship.
This will be Harris's fourth season with the Louth-based Honda Racing team. The Sheffield star won the British Supersport Championship on the CBR600RR in 2003 and 2004, before being rewarded for his achievements with a ride on Honda Racing's CBR1000RR Fireblade in 2005. His Supersport title in 2004 was won in HM Plant Honda Racing colours alongside the factory Superbike team.
Harris has played a key part in Honda Racing's British Superbike campaign over the past season. He finished seventh overall in the 13-round series with best results of two third positions at Oulton Park in May. His selection is indicative of Honda Racing's policy of developing the next generation of British Superbike Championship contenders.
The retention of Kiyonari will not come as a surprise to those who have witnessed his rise to the position of one of the world's leading Superbike riders in 2005. As well as winning the prestigious Suzuka 8-hour endurance race in Japan, Kiyo won 12 races in the British Superbike Championship and finished second overall behind Gregorio Lavilla. His mission will undoubtedly be to win the British Superbike Championship title for HM Plant Honda Racing at his third attempt.
Neil Tuxworth, Honda Racing Race Team Manager: "I believe that HM Plant Honda Racing is in a strong position for next season's British Superbike Championship. After finishing second and third in this year's series, there is only one more step to take for the team to reach its goal of winning the title.
"Rider selection is obviously a key part of the team's strategy. Kiyo has been superb in 2005, and with a higher level of consistency, there is no doubt that he will once again be one of the leading contenders for the title.
"Karl has also earned his place in the team thanks to the hard work and loyalty he has shown over the past three years. His renewed commitment to HM Plant Honda Racing and elevation to the factory CBR1000RR Fireblade can only be good news for the future of the sport in the UK."
Ryuichi Kiyonari: "I am of course happy to ride for HM Plant Honda Racing once again. I enjoy competing in the British Superbike Championship on the factory Fireblade. Next season I hope that I can continue to improve as a rider so that I can win more races and possibly the championship."
Karl Harris: "There isn't a rider in the British Superbike Championship paddock who would have turned down this opportunity. Riding the HRC-backed CBR1000RR Fireblade is the pinnacle of my career so far and I am determined to succeed. I'm also looking forward to returning to HM Plant Honda Racing colours and would like to thank them for their continued support."