Moira's Ian Lowry will make a welcome return to the British Superbike Championship paddock on May Day, after signing a new contract on Thursday with the Motorpoint Yamaha team.
The Yamaha BSB reshuffle came within hours of former world superbike champion Neil Hodgson, being forced to announce his premature retirement through injury — after crashing awkwardly during the opening round at Brands Hatch over Easter.
Team boss at Motorpoint Yamaha, Rob McElnea, is delighted to have secured the 23-year-old’s signature, and is confident that last season’s top BSB rookie can fill the void left by the experienced Hodgson.
“Ian will test the bike at Cadwell Park today before taking up his first challenge in Motorpoint Yamaha colours at Oulton Park next weekend,” explained McElnea. “We need to get back to the sharp end as soon as possible after a troublesome start to the year, and we feel Ian is the best rider for the job.”
The only stumbling block for Lowry is his Moto2 CEV Spanish championship commitments with the JMW Fogi Racing team. Lowry’s debut in the six round Spanish series at Albacete was less than successful, with a catalogue of problems forcing the 23-year-old to withdraw from the starting line-up after the opening qualifying session. Lowry will return to Spain to honour his CEV commitments, but last night, as expected, he was fully focused on his BSB return.
“It’s a great shame for Neil. I like many young racers followed Neil throughout his career and I am sure he is feeling pretty rubbish right now,” said the youngster. “I rode the Yamaha at Oulton Park a few weeks ago after Neil got injured and got on really well with it, so I just can’t wait to get stuck in next weekend.”
Meanwhile, Double World Superbike champion James Toseland is hoping for a vast turnout of British fans in this weekend's round at Assen.
The Dutch circuit is traditionally well attended by British bike fans and Toseland expects them to beat the travel chaos caused by a volcanic ash cloud to turn up on Sunday and cheer on an unprecedented seven homegrown riders.