Alex Barros has turned his back on the World Superbike championship, after just one season, and will return to MotoGP in 2007 after signing to ride for the Pramac d'Antin Team.
The 36-year-old Brazilian, a 500cc/MotoGP rider from 1990-2005 - taking seven race wins - made a late switch to WSBK, with Klaffi Honda, this season after a lack of competitive MotoGP offers. Barros claimed it was the start of a new career, in which he hoped to win a world title before retirement, but - despite taking a race win at Imola and being inundated with top-class 2007 SBK offers - has decided to return to grand prix racing, with the satellite Ducati team.
"I'm very happy to come back and race in the premier-class with Pramac d'Antin MotoGP," said Barros, who has now won 500cc, MotoGP and WSBK races. "The new Ducati Desmosedici GP7 800cc already seems a very good project. I'm really confident, I know the team and I'm sure that we will make a good job together. I can't wait to be back to compete for the first positions with a MotoGP bike."
Although the d'Antin Ducati team has struggled badly in recent seasons, it is expected to be a greater threat in 2007 since it will have a brand new 800cc machine, very similar to the factory Ducati riders - while, even more significantly, the team will switch from Dunlop to Bridgestone tyres, as also used by the race-winning factory team.
"We're very happy to welcome a rider with such a big valour as Alex Barros," declared team manager Luis d'Antin. "His arrival makes us really confident for next season. Barros is a rider that has a lot of experience and I'm sure that he will give us a lot of good performances. The objective of the Pramac d'Antin MotoGP will be to compete at a high level during the whole season, constantly aiming for the podium."
"I'm enthusiastic to continue the MotoGP adventure with a winning rider like Alex Barros," added Paolo Campinoti, CEO of Pramac. "His experience will allow our team to reach the results that we deserve. The Pramac Group believes a lot in the racing project and will keep on following it with the biggest commitment. For the 2007 season we will soon announce important news."
Alex Hofmann and Jose Luis Cardoso currently ride for d'Antin Ducati, with Hofmann expected to remain next season.
Ironically, James Toseland decided against switching to MotoGP with d'Antin Ducati after speaking with Barros about the move earlier this season...