Czech rider Jakub Smrz will be on the grid once again in the 2015 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship.
Smrz returns with the Hampshire-based Lloyds British Moto Rapido team on a brand new Ducati 1199 Panigale R.
The former World Superbike rider, known by his nickname of Kuba, secured the old Panigale’s first pole position in BSB last season and a top finish of sixth place at Thruxton.
The 31-year-old ended the season down in 15th place in the standings but is hopeful of more successful campaign this time round.
Smrz said: “I feel really good about this season. Last year wasn’t the easiest for me but we have done lot of work and development with the Panigale. It’s great to be with Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati and continue the work that we started. The team have a lot of passion and everybody is working hard. I feel that the team deserves to see their Ducati at the top.
“There are many improvements for this year and with Steve [Moore, team owner] managing the team; he has a very good understanding of racing and the Ducati, which is very positive. The bike should be stronger and some of the settings problems we had last year will be improved. Of course it is hard to say before we go testing but I am feeling very confident because the hard work of the team and knowledge of the Ducati will helps us to move forward.”
After a relatively tough 2014 campaign, the team have spent the winter months under-going a comprehensive development programme, working alongside Ducati’s Bologna factory.
Team owner, Steve Moore added: “I’m thrilled to be back on the MCE BSB grid this year with new sponsor Lloyds British and additional support from Ducati UK. Working with Kuba last year was great, however we are looking for some big results in 2015, the team infrastructure is now vastly improved, and we’ve a superb new bike so we’re just desperate to get out on the track!
“Last season was certainly challenging; we had a few set-up issues when matching the bike and Kuba’s style so never really got him comfortable, but still managed many good lap times, thankfully this year we are in a far greater position. With the season rapidly approaching, we’re look forward to celebrating all the hard work put in over the winter – there’s been a lot of work behind the scenes, but we’re ready to go racing!
“We remain a dealer-based team which will make the first podiums even more special this season. We don’t have the same resources as some of the other teams in the paddock, but I’m really pleased with what we have in place for 2015 – I believe that we can mount our strongest challenge yet. I’m really looking forward to the first test soon. Thank you to all our partners that are making it happen.”
Today’s announcement means that the 2015 BSB grid will now feature 11 different nationalities and seven different manufactures.
The 2015 season gets underway at Donington Park on April 4-6.