WITH the British Supersport opening round just over two weeks away, the Smiths Triumph motorcycle racing team, based in Eastington, are preparing to defend their title.
They raced to success in dramatic style at the final race of the 2012 season.
The team have recently returned from a successful test in Spain where they, along with engineering colleagues from Triumph Motorcycles, were able to put in the long hours and extended running required to prepare for the tough schedule ahead.
The team hope that the new bike will give them an engineering edge over their competitors.
For 2013, the Factory team are focusing their efforts on two riders: 2012 British Supersport Champion Glen Richards and the rider who finished third in the championship, Billy McConnell.
Both riders have been involved in the development of the 2013 bike and said they are excited about the forthcoming season and realising the bikes full potential when put under race pressure.
Richards said: "It's going to be a tough year as I've got the number one plate to defend on a brand new bike.
"That being said, I am feeling confident especially as it's my second year with the Smiths Triumph Team.
"The new 675 Triumph has been fantastic throughout testing and so I am very much looking forward to the first round."
McConnell said he is also looking forward to the challenges ahead.
He said: "I'm so happy to be back with Smiths for 2013 and to have the factory status and support is great.
"We've got a big year ahead in the championship and there are more strong riders moving into our class.
"The new bike already feels like a winner to me.
"The tests in Spain were very encouraging and we produced good lap times at both circuits.
"I am now living in Gloucestershire which I feel is strengthening my relationship with the team and is increasing my confidence going into round one."
Team manager Rebecca Smith is planning the team's assault on the first race weekend of the season at Brands Hatch from April 5 to 8 and said she is excited by the prospects for the new Triumph Daytona.
"We have previously had the same level of involvement as the other teams with feedback and development with the Daytona.
"This was because Triumph wanted to treat all teams equally and sought advice from all of them.
"Since we were named as the official team for 2013, we have put together detailed, written reports for Triumph on all that has been developed with the new Daytona.
"They have also, of course, had lots of feedback from their own test riders, and Billy is one of those.
"Working closely alongside the Triumph factory enables us to both develop the new bike and overcome any minor issues encountered very quickly.
"The recent test in Spain has been very positive and we are now accelerating our work load ready for the Brands Hatch weekend."
Smiths Triumph will be competing in all 12 rounds of the British Championship and also have plans to enter three rounds of the World Supersport Championship.
"The season is now fast approaching and will conclude with the climax of the season at Brands Hatch in October.
Smith added: "As 2012 champions I am sure that we will be a target for all the other teams. That status only motivates us to improve and be better and faster than last year.
"We are ready to go and are anticipating a close-fought season but at the same time confident of keeping our Gloucestershire team on the top step of the podium."