Peter Hickman in Kawasaki link as GBmoto announce factory deal

Peter Hickman leads Michael Dunlop on his way to victory in the second Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix in August.
Peter Hickman leads Michael Dunlop on his way to victory in the second Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix in August.

High-flying MCE British Superbike team GBmoto Racing has confirmed a full-on assault at the international road races in 2016 with increased factory support from Kawasaki to run the all-new ZX-10R.

Louth’s Peter Hickman has been linked with a move back to the team after competing for Mark Smith-Halvorsen’s outfit in BSB in 2013 and certainly ticks all the boxes for the ambitious outfit.

GBmoto announced an exciting new three-year deal as Kawasaki’s official UK Superbike team on Monday and the full rider line-up is due to be officially confirmed this week.

Hickman has proved himself as a serious contender in BSB and is tipped as a future winner at the Isle of Man TT following a whirlwind introduction to road racing, clinching a prestigious Superbike victory at the Ulster Grand Prix in August in only his second year of competition between the hedges.

The 28-year-old, who clocked a stunning 131.626mph lap on his way to seventh place in the Senior TT in June, is a rising star in the sport and is tipped to be unveiled as James Ellison’s new team-mate, who has already re-signed for the 2016 BSB campaign under the JG Speedfit banner.

As part of the three-year deal, GBmoto Racing will benefit from greater factory support approved from Japan through Kawasaki Europe, and will also work closely with the KRT World Superbike squad.

Ellison and his new team-mate will join the official WSBK team for a two-day test at Aragon this week alongside Tom Sykes, although world champion Jonathan Rea will not be present as his wife Tatia is expecting their second child. A second test on the new ZX-10R will follow over four days at Jerez.

Bradford’s Dean Harrison has also been linked with a move to Kawasaki machinery after leaving Ulster’s Mar-Train Racing team and has yet to confirm his plans for next season.

Whether or not the 26-year-old will slot into a two-man roads line-up with Hickman at GBmoto Racing remains to be seen, but it would be no surprise given Harrison’s reputation as another big TT star of the future.

In an official statement on Monday, team principal Smith-Halvorsen confirmed GBmoto’s commitment to the North West 200, TT and Ulster Grand Prix next year.

“This is an incredibly proud moment for GBmoto as we take yet another step forward.

“From the very beginning, our partnership with Kawasaki has yielded success and I’m excited to be strengthening this relationship with closer links to the factory and the Kawasaki Racing Team for next three years.

“The JG Speedfit Kawasaki team had an incredible year in BSB and if it wasn’t for some bad luck I think we could have been celebrating many more wins,” he added.

“However, the new ZX-10R is a weapon in waiting and I’m confident that with the extensive testing programme we have in place for the winter months, we’ll hit the ground running in 2016 as we look to not just to secure our maiden British Superbike title, but also our first major road race victory.”