Former MotoGP star Hector Barbera is the latest recruit to join the 2023 Bennetts BSB grid after agreeing a one-year-deal with TAG Racing Honda.
The Spaniard returns to Bennetts BSB after a two-year hiatus where he contested in the Moto America Championship with the Tytlers Racing team, taking one victory, visited the podium on three occasions, finished fifth in the 2022 standings as the top BMW rider. Those results did enough to attract the attentions of Rob Winfield’s squad, who endured a frustrating 2022 in the British blue-ribband class.
The now 36-year-old’s career has been varied for over 20 years, after making his debut in the Grand Prix racing paddock back in 2002. He has taken 10 victories in both 125cc and 250cc world championships, his first coming at Donington Park in 2003. He finished second in the overall standings on two occasions behind Andrea Dovizioso in 2004, and then Hiroshi Aoyama in 2009.
This form then led him to an eight year stay in the premier MotoGP class, with seven of those years spent with Ducati in satellite teams such as Aspar, Pramac and Avintia. After a short six round stay in the Moto2 World Championship in, he then moved to the World Superbike paddock, racing in both the superbike and supersport classes in 2018 and 2019.
The now Andorra resident would then head to Bennetts BSB as a replacement to Glenn Irwin at the Bournemouth Kawasaki squad mid-way through the year, and a string of impressive performances, including a season best finish of sixth, then led to a full-time ride in 2020 with the OMG Racing BMW team. However, after failing to break into the all-important top eight at the end of that season, he was forced to look further ashore to continue his career.
TAG Racing Honda started the 2022 season with fresh hope, after what was a difficult development year with the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP in 2021. Luke Mossey kicked the year off, but after failing to score a point in the opening five rounds they parted ways, paving the way for former Moto2 World Champion, Tito Rabat, to take over the reins.
But it would be a baptism of fire for the man from Andorra, after completing two races at Thruxton, with a best finish of 26th in race one, he too would depart the squad to fully focus on his assault of the Spanish Superbike Championship, which he secured with one round to go.
With increased support from Honda Racing UK in 2023, the 2017 Championship runners up are preparing for an upturn in fortunes with Barbera at the helm of their Superbike effort. The team will also run Matt Truelove and Shaun Winfield in the Pirelli National Superstock Championship, news that was announced earlier this week.
“I am very motivated to get going this season with TAG Racing,” Barbera said. “Returning to the British Superbike series is very exciting and is a move I am most looking forward to.
“Working with the team to find a way forward together has been a positive journey and I am so pleased that we have been able to reach this agreement. I would really like to thank Gary and Rob for the opportunity and to the BSB series for being so welcoming.”
Team Manager Gary Winfield spoke exclusively to BikeSocial and said: “It’s fair to say the last few years in the Championship have been rough for us, but we’ve fully hit the reset button and are now focussed on getting back to sharp end.
“Hector is a quality rider, he’s proven that in the past and with his experience of different Championships and machines we feel he’s the right fit for us going forward.
“We have a packed testing schedule, which is important, the last few years we have lacked solid testing time, so to have these dates set in stone, and with the increased support behind the scenes from Honda Racing UK we believe we’re on the right path.”