Last October Hill won the 2011 championship in sensational style by just 0.006 seconds in the closest title finish in MCE BSB history, and he will line up with the number one plate at the four day opening event at his home circuit.
Hill said: “I am looking forward to getting back to Brands Hatch as I have such great memories of the last time I raced there when we won the title. We want to pick up where we left off last year as it is key to come away from the first rounds with some strong finishes so we can carry the momentum to the next round. We have been feeling positive after pre-season testing, but it will come down to Easter Monday when the racing really starts and we are going to come out fighting!”
Hill will face fierce rivalry in his quest for victory with his new-team and former World Superbike Championship contender Noriyuki Haga lining up alongside him at Swan Yamaha. The Japanese ace is nicknamed the ‘Samurai of Slide’ for his flamboyant riding style and his debut is eagerly anticipated by his British fans.
Haga said: “I like Brands Hatch; I have never raced on the Indy circuit but this won’t be a problem as I know the rest of the track very well from World Superbike. I have in the past had lots of fans there at the track so I hope that they come and support me again. We have a good setting with the Swan Yamaha after our pre-season testing and like everyone I want to win. This is a new challenge for me with different circuits and different riders and I will be trying very hard to get results. I will be giving one hundred percent and for sure I will go for it in the races!”
Double champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne returns in a bid to claim a third MCE BSB Championship title, which would equal the current record. Brands Hatch has been a happy hunting ground in the past for the local star and he rejoins Paul Bird’s former title winning team in the new Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki colours.
Byrne said: “This season is a start of a whole new chapter with the championship and the team; I am very proud to be part of it. Now pre-season testing is behind us we will see who has the initial edge at Brands Hatch and I am sure there will be a few surprises. I feel the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team are well prepared for the opening round and we don’t want to be just making up the numbers. I am feeling pumped and ready for the weekend.”
2011 title contender Josh Brookes returns with the Tyco Suzuki team as the Australian aims for the title that has eluded him in the past; he runs alongside reigning Motorpoint British Supersport champion Alastair Seeley. Michael Laverty was also in contention last season and now with the Samsung Honda team he set the early pace at a recent pre-season test at Snetterton; he will be aiming for the title with the team who have already claimed three championship victories.
The MCE British Superbike Championship also sees former World Supersport Championship contenders Florian Marino (France) and Luca Scassa (Italy) lining up on the grid at Brands Hatch with the Splitlath Redmond Racing and Padgetts Honda teams respectively. The season also marks the debut of Ducati’s newest Superbike, the Panigale, with Italian Alex Polita joining the Jentin Doodson Motorsport Ducati team whilst Maidstone’s Scott Smart gears up for his home round.
The spectacular 2012 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship kicks off at Brands Hatch this Easter weekend (6/7/8/9 April). For more information visit www.britishsuperbike.com