Hiroshi Aoyama has been confirmed as the second rider to join Jonathan Rea in the Ten Kate Honda squad to race in WSB in 2012.
Aoyama is currently competing in MotoGP with the San Carlo Honda Gresini team, but it will be all change in 2012 when he swaps his Honda RC212V for a production based Honda CBR1000RR.
Aoyama was the last ever 250cc World Champion in 2009, before the series became Moto2. He rode a Honda RS250RW to victory with four wins during the season, beating rivals Hector Barbera, Marco Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista to the coveted title.
Like his new team-mate Rea, Aoyama has ridden Honda machinery throughout the vast majority of his racing career, but now faces an all new challenge of WSB.
Hiroshi Aoyama said: “I have raced in MotoGP for the last couple of years and it has really been a great experience for me. I really want to thank Fausto Gresini and all the staff and technicians of Team San Carlo Honda Gresini for this extraordinary period in my career. Now I have the opportunity to go to World Superbike with Honda and Ten Kate Racing and I’m very excited about this new challenge. I don’t know very much about Superbike but I really hope to make a good job together with my new team.”
Team boss Ronald ten Kate added: “We are all thrilled about Hiroshi Aoyama joining us for what promises to be a really exciting 2012 World Superbike championship. He’s coming to SBK at still quite a young age and the speed he has shown in the last couple of years in MotoGP is beyond question. We hope that, with a solid winter testing programme, we can make Hiroshi’s transition to the new SBK-specification Fireblade as quick and as easily as possible.”