Chris Vermeulen will join James Toseland in switching from MotoGP back to World Superbike next season, after agreeing a deal with Kawasaki.
By the end of 2009, Vermeulen will have spent four full seasons in MotoGP with Suzuki - after three stand-in rides for Camel Honda in late 2005 - and is the only rider to win a MotoGP race with the GSV-R, courtesy of a lone wet weather victory at Le Mans in 2007.
The Australian has also scored more podiums (seven) and poles (three) than any other Suzuki rider since the start of the four-stroke era in 2002, with his best championship ranking of sixth (2007) beaten only by John Hopkins (fourth).
Prior to joining MotoGP, Vermeulen won the 2003 World Supersport Championship and then ten World Superbike races (from 45 starts) with Ten Kate Honda - for whom he finished second in the 2005 WSBK standings.
As such, and with the factory MotoGP seats already occupied, Vermeulen had a far better chance of achieving his aim of a competitive 2010 ride in WSBK.
However the choice of Kawasaki, without a podium finish since 2007 and with only one race win since 2000 - by Chris Walker in 2006 - has raised eyebrows.
Vermeulen is not concerned by the past results, pointing to a concentration of effort by Kawasaki on WSBK next year, which will be the Paul Bird Motorsport team's second year as a factory outfit.
“I spoke with Yoda-san [Ichiro Yoda, director of Kawasaki Racing] and he convinced me that Kawasaki was prepared to put in large amounts of resources and attention into winning the World Superbike Championship. That is what I want, to challenge and to win races,” explained Vermeulen.
Vermeulen also revealed that he will have to miss the first post-season WSBK test after his request to take part was turned down by Suzuki.