The Aspar Ducati team has confirmed the long-awaited news that Alvaro Bautista will join its MotoGP team for 2017.
The Spaniard, left without a ride at Aprilia, will get 2016 Desmosedici machinery.
“I am happy to be returning to what was my home for many years in the World Championship, where I enjoyed my best results including the 125cc World Championship title and fought for another title in 250cc," Bautista said.
"I am happy and motivated to be going back and especially to have another year in MotoGP, a new adventure. Over the years I have grown a lot and I have much more experience now. I am confident that with this team we can be competitive in 2017.”
Bautista has ridden for the Suzuki (factory), Honda (satellite) and Aprilia (factory) teams during his seven years in MotoGP. His most successful was 2012, when he took the RCV to two podiums, one pole and fifth in the world championship.
"For the Aspar Team it gives us great pleasure in every sense to welcome Álvaro Bautista back," added team manager Jorge Martinez 'Aspar'. "As a team we picked up our first World Championship title with him back in 2006 and we enjoyed some wonderful years together.
"Our professional and personal relationship with him is excellent and for the team and our sponsors this is great news. My hope and desire is that this brings great results for Ducati and for us. It is important for us to have a Spanish rider with his record and his professionalism. He can give us an advantage on track.”
One of Aspar's current riders - Yonny Hernandez or Eugene Laverty - is set to join Bautista for 2017, but rumoured to be on GP15 machines.
Laverty has made clear he will only stay if he has equal machinery to his team-mate. If not, the Irishman will return to the World Superbike Championship, where he is a key target for Aprilia's proposed factory return in partnership with SMR
By Peter McLaren