FIM Endurance World Championship
Talk about a team loaded with talent. For the 2011 FIM Endurance World Championship, three notable riders and one on reserve will contest aboard a CBR 1000 Fireblade on the all-new Honda TT Legends team.
One look at the lineup and success looks extremely achievable: Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness, North West 200 Champion Steve Plater and road-racing specialist Keith Armor. The reserve rider is also another Isle of Man TT winner, Cameron Donald.
The Honda TT Legends team will debut this weekend at the legendary Bol d'Or (April 16-17), a 24-hour race at Magny-Cours, France.
For 2011, 53 teams will be contesting at the 75th Bol d'Or race. This round of the Endurance World Championship has usually occurred in September, but has moved to April for the season opener, the first of six rounds.
John McGuinness (Honda TT Legends) says: "I've done a lot of things in my racing career but I've never done a full world endurance season, so it's all completely new to me. Pre-season testing has gone very well, we've put in a lot of laps and we've all stayed in one piece with no crashes, but to be honest I'm nervous and apprehensive about the first race.
"There's certainly pressure competing against so many accomplished teams on the world stage, but we have a competitive package with a great history so I want to step up my game and ride well."
Steve Plater (Honda TT Legends) says: "It's going to be steep learning curve for the team going into the championship with a 24-hour race - we could have done with an 8-hour first off. Having said that, there is a vast amount of experience in the team.
"Some of the key members have over 25 years experience in EWC and I've been endurance racing professionally since 1999. In the past I have mixed road racing and one-off endurance events throughout the season, but this year my focus is solely on the EWC. Testing has been good, the bike has been working well, the team has come together and hopefully when it matters next week we can bring it home and score some points.
Keith Amor (Honda TT Legends) says: "This is a brand new thing for me and jumping straight into the 24 hr race is probably not the ideal way to start my World Endurance career! I'm a bit apprehensive, a bit nervous but it's exciting and I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a really, really tough challenge but its nice to be working as part of team for each other as opposed to being part of a one-man band. It's going to be interesting for sure. I plan to ease into it as gently as possible, do safe laps at the outset and make sure I don't let anybody down."
Neil Tuxworth (Honda TT Legends Team Manager) says: "We had two objectives during testing - to have a reliable machine and for the riders not to crash. We now have over 24 hours clocked on the Fireblade with no major issues. It's a versatile and dynamic machine that has already proved it can transfer from the smooth short circuits of world championship racing to the bumps and trials of the TT course, so we have no worries there. As for the riders, we completed testing without a single crash so all in all it's been excellent and I couldn't wish for more at this stage.
"I'd say we are in with a fighting chance at the Bol. Nobody here underestimates the challenge ahead and there is a huge amount of pressure on the team, but we've learned an incredible amount so far. We'll carry on learning as the year progresses but I'm reasonably happy with where we are. The number one aim is to finish the race - you can't get a result without finishing. Long distance racing can throw up all sorts of issues but hopefully we're in a position where we can deal with them and keep our riders on the track."
About Honda TT Legends
The Honda TT Legends is a British team created to contest the 2011 FIM Endurance World Championship together with two iconic road race festivals, the Isle of Man TT and the Ulster GP.
The team consists of three main riders - 15-times TT winner John McGuinness, former British Supersport Champion, TT veteran and world endurance race winner Steve Plater and North West 200 winner Keith Amor. All three will contest the 24-hour races along with reserve rider Isle of Man TT winner and endurance race contender Cameron Donald. McGuinness and Plater will take part in the two-rider, non-24 hour races in the EWC while Amor will join McGuinness for the TT and UGP.
The Honda TT Legends team is run from Louth, Lincolnshire - the same base that operates Honda UK's highly successful British Superbike campaign as well as running one of the most victorious TT teams in recent years. To bolster the effort in the EWC, Honda has also enlisted the help of key members of Phase One - an outfit with 25 years of World Endurance racing including three championship titles under its belt.
The team will compete aboard the iconic Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade - a legend in its own right as one of the most successful single machines in the Isle of Man TT's 100-year history. It is also the bike that allowed John McGuinness to push the TT lap record past 130mph in 2007 - a record he still holds today.
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