CRAIG Jones next week begins his bid to be a world champion.
The 22-year-old Greenbank rider, who ran fifth in the World Supersport Series last year, has a new teammate and new manager but is sticking with the same set-up, though that also has a new banner of Parkalgar Honda Racing.
Simon Buckmaster is the new manager and Miguel Praia his new team-mate.
While racing does not get under way until Qatar on February 23, the first of three rigorous testing sessions at Almeria, Spain, are now due.
His 2007 campaign was dogged by technical problems and sheer bad luck, but a late surge suggests he can be among the front runners by the final round at Portugal’s Portmao track on November 2.
Jones said: “I was disappointed not to have finished higher but anyone can suffer technical problems. It’s just that I had more than my fair share, especially during the first half of the season.
“Having already signed my contract I have had a relaxed winter, though I have trained hard and lost weight, which will stand me in good stead.
“We have factory backing from Honda, the engine tuners and support team are all in place. We can make a determined effort for the championship.”
Jones predicts a strong British influence in the results. He is joined by three of his countrymen, Tommy Hill, Chris Walker and Jonathan Rea.
“They are close friends of mine and I am looking forward to racing them,” he added.