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.

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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."

Paul Phillips, TT and Motorsport Development Manager, described Mercer as a one of the most exciting prospects to compete at the event in recent seasons.

"Millsport Racing is an excellent team and they are a great fit with Steve Mercer who is one of the most exciting new riders to compete on the Mountain Course in recent years," he said.

"I'm sure that they will enjoy a successful relationship and we look forward to seeing them on the Isle of Man in 2012."

The Ulster team has scaled down its operations in recent seasons following the tragic death of leading Irish road racer Martin Finnegan at the Tandragee 100 in 2008.

Scotland's Keith Amor joined the team for the 2010 season after splitting from Wilson Craig Racing but dramatically quit just three weeks before the opening race of the year.

Millsport has worked with a host of top riders in the past including Michael Rutter, Conor Cummins, Ryan Farquhar and Alastair Seeley.

Last year, Dublin's Jack Kennedy rode the Millsport Yamaha R1 in the Adelaide Masters mini-series on the short circuit scene.