Franco Bourne will graduate to the British Superbike Championship full-time next season after both he and the Marvel HCL team secured Honda Racing UK backing aimed at fostering fresh talent.
The youngster started the season competing with Marvel HCL in the National Superstock Championship before being called up to deputise for the injured Andrew Irwin in the factory Honda Racing UK team in BSB.
Impressing with a number of points’ finishes that incremented further up the field during his six-event stint, Bourne would go on to finish the season in the full fat class with HCL Marvel on a Honda CBR1000RR-R adapted to Pathway regulations.
Peaking with a career-best run to sixth in the wet at Donington Park, Bourne will now get a full season in BSB next year with HCL Marvel and Honda UK backing, competing under the Rapid Honda Racing UK banner.
“Last season was a big year for me and the team did a brilliant job helping me achieve some excellent results. Honda also gave me a fantastic opportunity on their Superbike and I was just starting to really get to grips with it when Andrew returned from injury.
“So I am especially pleased that Honda are continuing to support me as a young rider and getting the chance of a full season on the Superbike with Rapid Honda Racing UK.”
Matt Bainbridge, Marvel HCL Motorsport Team Manager added: “We believe Franco has the talent to make it to the highest level of motorcycle racing and want to give him the best possible opportunity to showcase his ability.
“To make that happen we’ve joined forces with Rapid, the UK’s leading rider coaching company, and Honda Racing to ensure we have the best equipment available in a full superbike spec Fireblade combined with the best coaching support to really nurture Franco on and off track.
“I think we turned a lot of heads and surprised a few people last season, but we know we need to raise our game again stepping up to Bennetts British Superbikes full time in 2024. The level of competition is intense but we are already making improvements all round to be ready for the 2024 season.”
Bourne’s promotion is just the latest big announcement to come from Honda Racing UK ahead of a big push for the 2024 season.
Last week it was announced that defending champion Tommy Bridewell would switch to the Louth-based squad to head up a three-man BSB line-up also comprising Irwin and Dean Harrison.
Harrison will then join John McGuinness and Nathan Harrison in tackling Honda’s road racing schedule, including the 2024 Isle of Man TT, while four-time British Supersport Champion Jack Kennedy returns to the middleweight class to head up Honda’s new project with the new generation Honda CBR600RR.