Ducati Corse has confirmed that it will definitely be competing in next year’s World Superbike championship with two new riders.
The factory’s superbike effort will now be fronted by HM Plant’s James Toseland and Caracchi NCR’s Regis Laconi. The two riders are currently third and fourth in this year’s championship, just behind the current Ducati factory riders Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus. Both have been on Ducati 998s this year, but will ride factory 999s in 2004.
Toseland will join the ranks of Troy Bayliss and Neil Hodgson, both of whom moved up from the satellite HM Plant GSE racing team to the full works team. Both riders also subsequently became world champions, so expectations are high for Toseland to keep the crown in British hands.
Laconi has put in a stunning performance this season collecting five podium finishes along the way and is one of the few riders in the field to have won both WSB and GP races.
Current Ducati riders Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus have not confirmed where they will be riding next year but it is looking increasingly likely that both will be on the GP grid. Xaus was rumoured to be going to the U.S. Superbike championship but sources say that there would have to be a guaranteed GP ride in the next two years for him to consider the move.
Ducati Corse also announced that it will be re-entering the World Supersport championship with its new 749R ridden by 21-year-old Lorenzo Lanzi. The Italian is currently in second place behind Michel Fabrizio in the World Superstock championship on a Ducati 999S and is still in with a chance of taking the title this weekend at the final round at Magny Cours.
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