Isle of Man TT race winner James Hillier will switch from Yamaha machinery to Honda for the 2024 season.
Hillier will remain with his rebranded OMG Racing team - which becomes WTF Racing - as part of a new campaign that also confirms a return to the Dakar Rally for 2025.
The 2015 TT winner has been a Yamaha racer for the team since 2022, becoming the marque’s fastest-ever rider last season.
But, with the brand pulling back its support for domestic racing for 2024 and with the R1 starting to show its age, Hillier will instead line up this year for its new satellite squad on a Honda - even though the main WTF team will stick with Yamahas and become the manufacturer’s official British Superbike squad.
It comes after a successful 2023 TT for Honda, with Michael Dunlop taking his privateer Hawk Racing Fireblade to victory in the opening Superbike TT race. And with Honda offering competitive technical support packages to satellite squads, it makes sense for Hillier to also take that route for 2024.
“Riding the Hondas will be a new challenge for me after two years on the Yamaha,” Hillier said in announcing the news, “but given the performance we’ve seen of late from the Fireblade, whether in Superbike or Superstock trim, it’s one I’m really looking forward to.
“The Honda is proven to be quick straight out of the box, which shows how good the base setting is, and it’s a good all-round package. You only have to look at the entry to see how many Hondas there are and that speaks volumes.
“One area I struggled a bit with last year was top speed and the Hondas had the edge over me, so it’ll be good not to have that issue this year!
“We probably won’t run a full Superbike but will instead run a Superstock-spec bike in all races, albeit with a higher tune of engine for the Superbike and Senior races.
“Keeping it safe and simple like that works better for me as it’s not easy swapping bikes all the time and this way will reduce the workload for all concerned.
“I’ve got the same team and crew with me as I’ve had for the last two years - only the team’s name is different - and I’m confident of finding more speed and making another step forward from the results and lap speeds I achieved in 2023.”
The team’s plans for the next 12 months will also lead to Hillier returning to Saudi Arabia early next year to take part in his second Dakar Rally, after a successful first attempt at the off-road rally in 2023 despite breaking his collarbone on only the fifth stage.
The rebranded team will have another focus apart from helping Hillier return to winning ways, according to team boss Alan Gardner, who said it also hopes to bring a new sustainability focus to the TT.
“When it comes to racing, especially a high level, saving the planet seems to be low on the priorities list,” Gardner explained.
“WTF have committed to racing responsibly from the outset and have already make considerable inroads to ensuring that the second our trucks leave for the North West 200 and then onto the Isle of Man TT, we will have already offset our carbon footprint.
“Our name says ‘We’re The Future’ but foremost, we’re a race team, and our focus will always be to win but that also means winning in the race to save the planet.”