TAG Racing Honda's Team Manager Gary Winfield told BikeSocial in an exclusive interview that "it will be a proud moment" for him if Tito Rabat can turn around the recent misfortunes of his Swadlincote-based Honda outfit.
It was announced on 8th August 2022 that Rabat would be replacing Luke Mossey who left the TAG team last week after failing to score a point in the first five rounds of the 2022 campaign, and is now in line to join the IForce Lloyd & Jones BMW team, replacing Dan Linfoot.
Winfield and his team have experienced a challenging few seasons. After switching manufacturer to Honda for the 2021 and securing support from Honda Racing UK, they have struggled to achieve the results they expected.
However, after signing the former Moto2 World Champion, Winfield hopes their fortunes can take a turn for the better as they head in to the second half of the season.
"It's a huge deal for us as a team and for the Bennetts BSB Championship to attract a rider of Tito's quality," Winfield said ahead of travelling to Thruxton for round 6 of the 2022 Bennetts BSB championship.
"I can't express how proud I am of being able to work with him. He's a World Champion, you don't just get handed those you have to work hard for them so it's clear the quality he has and we're hoping to see that on track."
Winfield remained tight lipped when asked if the 33-year-old would be returning for a full season in 2023.
"2023 is not in our thoughts yet, we want to focus on what we can do for the rest of 2022 and then we'll think about next year once the season is over," but then he joked, "ask me after this weekend and I might be able to tell you more."
After being left without a rider one week before the next event it was a quick turnaround to sign the Catalonian, but one Winfield described as a 'no brainer' when the opportunity presented itself.
"It all came about very quickly being honest, we were informed by Luke that he didn't want to continue, which we understood, so we wanted to go a different route and when the opportunity with Tito presented itself it was a no brainer.
"Although he doesn't know any of the British tracks, we're confident he'll hit the ground running, we will support him as a team and work hard to get closer to the front. It's a case of being realistic, we don't want to put pressure on him but in the same sentence we'd like to show people what we can do as a team."
With no points in 2022, and a string of tough years since being a whisker away taking the 2017 British Superbike Championship with Josh Brookes, it's a been a tough ride for the family run outfit.
Winfield admitted to BikeSocial that the recent years have been tough on him and the team but they're eager to relive that form which included three wins, seven podiums and the lap record at Brands Hatch… a record that still stands to this day.
"It is fair to say, yes, it has really hurt me the last few years" he admitted. "We are trying, we're not just here to make up the numbers. We know what we're doing as a team, we were three points off winning the title in 2017, and again you have to work for that, it doesn't get handed to you.
"The last few years have been tricky for us, but changing manufacturer to Honda has given us a new lease of life, however we know we still have a lot of work to do and there is a lot more to come from the bike.
"I know that as a team we are underachieving and that frustrates me, it frustrates us all, because we know we can do better, and that's not saying our previous riders weren't capable, because they were, but with Tito he brings a different level of expertise to help push us on.
"Racing has its ups and downs, and it's fair to say we've had more downs than ups recently, but we haven't thought about stepping away. It's easy to get out when it's going hard but if we can turn around our fortunes with Tito and get back up the sharp end, it will be a proud moment for me. Nobody wants to see this work more than myself."