The 2005 season marks a certain significance for Red Bull Honda, as it
is campaigning three riders in three different classes for the first
time. The success of the Red Bull Rookies programme over the last four
years is signified by the rapid progression of its riders to larger
capacity classes. The selection of a new 125GP rider further indicates
the team's commitment to investing in future champions.
In 2001, the pioneering Red Bull Rookies team was formed to focus on
nurturing and training young and promising motorcycle racing talent in
the UK. The overall aim was to enable young riders to have the best
possible training and experience in the 125cc class and help to provide
the route through to Supersport, Superbike and possibly the world
This season, all the team's hard work is realised as Red Bull Honda and
Jonathan Rea begin their first ever British Superbike Championship
campaign. The 18-year-old rider from Ballyclare in Northern Ireland
joined the team as a Red Bull Rookie in 2003 and after finishing 15th
overall in the National 125cc Championship, he quickly progressed to the
world class British Supersport Championship the following season.
Although his debut Supersport campaign was cut short due to injury in
2004, Rea achieved some good points-scoring finishes. He finished an
impressive sixth at Thruxton and eighth at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix
circuit aboard the Red Bull Rookies Honda CBR600RR after a mixed start
to the season.
Following a break away from racing to aid his recovery, the Ulster
teenager is determined to make his debut Superbike season a success. The
Red Bull Honda star plans to showcase his talent on the 1.2-mile Brands
Hatch Indy track at the Kent circuit this weekend.
During a pre-season test in Spain, Rea made significant progress and
adapted to the larger capacity Red Bull Honda. Then, at subsequent tests
at Knockhill, Donington Park and Brands, the emerging talent finalised
his preparations for what should be an enthralling 13-round
Jonathan Rea: "I'm really excited about returning to racing and even
more so because of my Superbike debut. The Red Bull Honda CBR1000RR
Fireblade is awesome and I hope to be able to do it some justice with
the help of the team. All I can aim for in my first season is to do the
best I can."
As Jonathan Rea discovered last year, the British Supersport
Championship is ultra-competitive and the 2005 season will be no
exception. Although often considered as a support race to the British
Superbike series, the Supersport class is by no means inferior. It has
traditionally been home to a wealth of motorcycle racing talent - none
more so than Honda Racing's own Karl Harris.
This year, Red Bull Honda rider Eugene Laverty is hoping to follow in
Harris' footsteps and claim the highly sought-after British Supersport
title. The Toomebridge teenager is making his debut in the British
Supersport Championship aboard the Red Bull Honda CBR600RR on Dunlop
The talented Ulsterman dominated some races - achieving four race wins
and five other podium places - on his Honda RS125 after joining Red Bull
Rookies Honda for the 2004 British 125GP Championship. Laverty finished
second overall, narrowly missing out on the title - after an unlucky
crash in the final round at Donington Park.
As a reward for his success, the 18-year-old was given the opportunity
to make his Supersport debut at the Castle Combe Grand National last
October. To prove his capabilities, he claimed victory in the first race
aboard the Red Bull Honda CBR600RR. Like team-mate Rea's progression,
Laverty's graduation from the British 125GP class also signifies the
success of the Red Bull Honda project.
Laverty is keen to go back to the 1.2-mile Brands Hatch Indy track where
he finished runner-up last season. He has already emerged as a
frontrunner on the Red Bull Honda CBR600RR during pre-season testing and
is ready to accept the challenge of the notoriously challenging
Eugene Laverty: "The British Supersport Championship is always
competitive and this year will be no exception. However, I would like to
think I could finish the championship among the top six riders. I had a
good result on the Red Bull Honda CBR600RR machine at the Castle Combe
Grand National in October so I think I am capable of finishing among
some of the best in the class. We'll have to wait and see."
Just as Jonathan Rea's move to the Superbike class has paved the way for
Eugene Laverty's Supersport debut, Laverty's progression to the next
stage in his motorcycle racing career has left his British 125GP
Championship mantle free for a new prodigy. After a series of tests,
14-year-old Chris Jones was selected in November to join Red Bull Honda,
as the latest rookie for the 2005 season.
The Worcestershire youngster has been racing motorcycles since he was
nine years old and has already sealed a number of coveted championship
titles. As the 2000-02 British 4.2 Mini Moto Champion, the Southern
Champion in both 2001 and 2002 and the 2004 MRO 125GP Champion, Jones is
certainly no stranger to victory. He was also awarded the New Era Rookie
of the Year prize at the tender age of 12.
Jones is contesting the British 125GP series on the two-stroke Red Bull
Honda RS125 machine on Dunlop tyres - the same machine campaigned by Red
Bull Rookies Honda graduate Laverty last year. Jones is aiming to
kickstart his championship challenge with his first ride at the 1.2-mile
Brands Hatch Indy track for Red Bull Honda at the weekend. He hopes to
follow in Laverty's tyre tracks and maintain a sustained bid for
The rising Droitwich star has already adapted to the bike well and
impressed at the team's recent test session in Spain. He followed up
that performance by establishing himself as a leader in the class during
the official pre-season tests at Donington Park and Brands Hatch.
Chris Jones: "It's such a great honour to be chosen to ride for the Red
Bull Honda team. Naturally, I found it difficult to acclimatise to my
new surroundings at first, but everyone has been great. I'm just ready
to go out there and show everyone what I am capable of."