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McWilliams to race for Stobart Honda in BSB

McWilliams to race for Stobart Honda in BSB

McWilliams to race for Stobart Honda in BSB

Jeremy McWilliams will not be competing in the 2005 MotoGP World Championship after signing a deal with Paul Bird Motorsport to contest the British Superbike Championship (BSB) with Stobart Honda.

McWilliams is the most successful British Grand Prix rider of his generation, amassing a total of 684 points in over 150 appearances, including six podium finishes and one win. The victory, which came in the 2001 Dutch TT, made him the first British rider to win a solo World Championship race since Ian McConnachie in 1986, a statistic that still remains today.

"BSB is second only to MotoGP in status and I'm thrilled to be racing here this season," said the 40-year-old, who had turned down a number of lucrative BSB offers as he held out for a MotoGP ride in 2005.

"I've been wanting to race in BSB for a couple of seasons now but it was a case of waiting for the right ride with the right team and Stobart Honda is the one that fits the bill perfectly. I can't thank Paul enough for hanging on whilst it was all being sorted out and we're both in it for one reason this year, and that is to win the title. We'll do whatever it takes to achieve that."

McWilliams started out racing in 1988 before rapidly progressing to British Championship level. He raced a 250cc machine in 1991 and in 1992 until moving on to a Ducati for selected rides in the Supercup Championship. From there, he moved onto the GP scene where he remained until this season and having not raced regularly in the UK in recent years, many of the tracks will be new or will need relearning. It's a challenge that McWilliams is looking forward to.

"There are some places I've never seen before and even those tracks I do know have changed so it is going to be interesting," he says. "But one of my main strengths in the world championship was my ability to learn them quickly so I don't see that being a problem. In fact I'm relishing the task! The other factor is that I'm delighted to be back and riding for Honda again and I genuinely believe we have got the right package in order to challenge for the crown."

The 40-year-old joins Gary Mason and Michael Laverty in a three man team for the former double BSB champions, representing a major coup for Paul Bird's team and the series in general.

"Jeremy was always my number one target and I offered the ride to him in the first place," revealed Bird. "Of course we were interested in both Shakey Byrne and Gregorio Lavilla as I didn't think we had a chance of signing a rider of Jeremy's calibre and it has taken a lot of time and patience but I'm absolutely thrilled to have secured his services. He is a rider with so much experience and he will bring a new dimension to the team."

The 13 round Bennett's British Superbike Championship regularly attracts trackside crowds of over 25,000 as well as millions of television viewers and BSB Race Director Stuart Higgs was elated with the news:

"Having a rider of Jeremy's undoubted pedigree will add further depth to the already high quality of the rider line up. We now have a dynamic mix of GP and WSB standard riders alongside BSB regulars and emerging talent, demonstrating that BSB is probably the most competitive series. I personally can't wait for Brands Hatch in March."

After testing for his new team, McWilliams will race the Stobart Honda Fireblade at the opening round of the series that takes place at Brands Hatch in Kent on Easter Monday March 28th 2005.

MotoGP, 2005

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