Northern Ireland's Millsport Racing team has confirmed the signing of Steve Mercer for the international road racing campaign in 2012.
Mercer, from Maidstone in Kent, will front the Ballymoney outfit's challenge at the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix.
The team will run Ducati machinery with support from the manufacturer in the UK and also intends to contest the opening rounds of the National Superstock 1000 Championship next season in preparation for the North West 200 on May 19.
Mercer will also ride the new 1199 Panigale at the Southern 100 on the Isle of Man in July, plus the Mondello Masters short circuit series in Ireland.
Millsport Racing had spoken with several riders about their plans for next year but agreed terms withEnglish ace Mercer for the new season.
The 29-year-old will have new Ducati Superbike and Superstock machines at his disposal and says he is thrilled to be linking up with the respected Irish race team.
“I'm really looking forward to riding the new Ducati 1199 Panigale for Millsport Racing next year and I think it will be a serious weapon on both the roads and circuits,” Mercer said.
“Next season can't come soon enough.”
Team spokesperson Patrick Murray revealed Mercer would embark on a testing programme early in the New Year as he bids to get to grips with his new steed.
“Millsport Racing Ducati are delighted to have Steve on board our 1199 Panigales for the 2012 season.
“Now we are looking forward to getting on the track as early as possible in the New Year to begin a testing programme in preparation for the season ahead.”