Czech contender Jakub Smrz will return to the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship this season, with 11 nations now featured on the 2015 grid. 'Kuba' returns with Ducati and the Lloyds British Moto Rapido team, the seventh different manufacturer to be represented ahead of the opening round at Donington Park (4/5/6 April).
Smrz returns to the Hampshire-based team ready to make further leaps forward with the Ducati since scoring the Panigale's first pole position and a best result of sixth place at Thruxton last season.
The team returns to the Championship following a comprehensive winter development programme, working closely with the Bologna factory ahead of the forthcoming season.
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.
"My realistic aim this year is to challenge for the Showdown. This year the grid is very tough, but last year we proved that we can be fast and we have improved so I feel better than ever. I love riding in BSB and this season I have everything I need to be fast. I need to thank Moto Rapido, Lloyds British and Ducati UK for this opportunity and I´ll do my best to deliver them some top results."
Team owner Steve Moore commented: "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!
"For 2015 we have the new Panigale R, with updated suspension components and chassis parts, plus lots more data available on the bike. Ducati have been very busy preparing for their own season, but have been supporting is us with a lot of technical information.
"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."