Rumored to be headed to World Superbike, or at least a CRT bike in MotoGP, Hiroshi Aoyama’s 2012 season plans have finally been unveiled. Signing with the the Castrol Honda team, the former-250GP Champion will leave the MotoGP paddock to race next season in World Superbike, alongside new teammate Johnny Rea. The move means the displacement of Ruben Xaus from the Ten Kate Honda squad, which is hardly a surprise considering the Spaniard’s horrid season(s).
The announcement also adds further speculation regarding whether San Carlo Gresini Honda will run a solitary bike for next year, at he team has already confirmed a factory RC213V with Maro Simoncelli on-board. Honda has reportedly intervened on Gresini’s plans to run a second bike under the CRT structure, which makes for something interesting to chew on, as the CRT rules were created as a direct reaction to the major manufacturers’ influence over how MotoGP was run and headed, with Honda headlining that now failing initiative.
“I have raced in MotoGP for the last couple of years and it has really been a great experience for me,” said Aoyama “I really want to thank Fausto Gresini and all the staff and technicians of Team San Carlo Honda Gresini for this extraordinary period in my career. Now I have the opportunity to go to World Superbike with Honda and Ten Kate Racing and I’m very excited about this new challenge. I don’t know very much about Superbike but I really hope to make a good job together with my new team.”
“We are all thrilled about Hiroshi Aoyama joining us for what promises to be a really exciting 2012 World Superbike championship,” said Ten Kate Honda Owner Ronald ten Kate. “He’s coming to SBK at still quite a young age and the speed he has shown in the last couple of years in MotoGP is beyond question. We hope that, with a solid winter testing programme, we can make Hiroshi’s transition to the new SBK-specification Fireblade as quick and easy as possible. Of course, we’d like to thank Ruben for his efforts this season and the team wishes him the very best for the future.”
Source: Honda; Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved