Well here I am sat on the plane on the way to Philip Island for the 2 days of testing on Monday and Tuesday and then preparation for round one when all us teams will know where we are at for sure.
I know I have been quiet lately but believe me I have not been sat at home with my feet up and neither have our loyal full-time staff Stuart, George, Ellie and not forgetting my right hand woman our PR, press and logistics queen, Sarah.
When Jules left at the end of last season for the new Nerds racing team it left me with the problem of finding a replacement to challenge for the title for our CIA Landlord Insurance Honda team. Add to that the fact that with 45 pre-applications understandably Dorna only wanted us to run two riders. This added to the challenge of making our budget work. Now of course we could have just looked for riders with budget and never mind the results but that is not what we are about, we are all passionate for success and I hope you can all see this with our rider choice.
As those of you close to me will know I have been interested in Niki Tuuli riding for us for 2 years now. I can tell you we are very happy to have him with us for 2018 and hopefully we can grow together beyond this season. Add Andrew Irwin to this, giving us a home rider again and you can say we are all going into the season more excited than we have ever been. Of course, Niki has experience and after testing I believe he will challenge for the title. His consistency of lap time and how quickly he settled in on our Honda CBR600RR was a joy to see. Andrew was also a breath of fresh air. He learnt a lot in his first WSS test and I am sure will benefit from having Niki as a teammate to measure himself against and be a credit to the British Supersport Championship where he came from and an inspiration to other young British riders wanting to make the grade at World Championship level.
We have also rekindled our relationship with Michael Dunlop and Hunt’s Motorcycles for the roads campaign centring of course on the NW200, TT and Ulster Grand Prix but knowing Micky D as I do he will also be at other big road races like the Southern 100. When he has ridden our bikes in the TT previously he has had 3 wins and a 3rd in Supersport and still holds the lap record from 2013 when he did the double in the Supersport class. This year as in 2013 we will be there at all the major races supporting MD Racing and looking to repeat the previous success we have enjoyed together. I personally have so much respect for Michael and this really is the icing on the cake alongside our World Supersport team. It adds to the workload I know but when your job is your passion it really does not matter. We are also supplying Honda Racing with the 2017 Jules Cluzel WSS bike for them to run Ian Hutchinson on.
After recovering from the devastating situation we found ourselves in after the truck fire mid-season last year I am so proud of all our team that we have such an exciting season to look forward to. I am really sorry that with less riders in WSS we cannot work with Kor Veldman and Kevin Lopez again this year but I would like to thank them both for the loyalty they have shown the team and hope to be working with them again in the not too distant future.
I would like to finish by saying a big thank you to CIA Insurance for their continued support and everyone else who has helped make it possible to be in such a good position going into the 2018 season. All of us at PTR will be giving 100% to make you all proud of your partnership with the CIA Landlord Insurance Honda team