It's official: can confirm that Ben Bostrom will return to the World Superbike championship this season, as the sole rider for Renegade Honda.

Team owner Mark Griffiths today told that the American star - who raced for Ducati in WSBK from 2000 to 2002 and then for Honda in AMA SBK in 2003 and 2004 - signed a two-year contract with his team on 23rd December, giving Griffiths a very nice Christmas indeed.

And to make ready for a 2005 title attack, Griffiths also revealed that Renegade has undergone a number of changes...

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Not only is the team moving to Italy, just 1km down the road from the Bologna Ducati factory, but it has also hired the services of Ben Bostrom's 2001 - 2002 L&M factory Ducati mechanics, already based in Bologna, to form the core of the new team.

30-year-old Bostrom, who finished the 2001 WSBK season in third place with six wins to his credit, is the middle of the three Bostrom brothers and now plans to move to Italy to be close to the new Renegade team base. The #155 is described by Griffiths as "very excited about the move to Europe."

According to Griffiths, his team will keep the services of their chief engineer - who helped Noriyuki Haga take six race wins last season - despite Yamaha making strong advances for his services, following Haga's move to the Yamaha Motor Italia outfit for 2005.

The Renegade team will also be switching from Ducati 999s to Honda Fireblades this year, and have confirmed support from Honda Europe for the foreseeable future.

Bostrom is highly respected by Honda, after riding for them in the AMA SBK series before his switch to Ducati and WSBK in 2000, and then returning to the Japanese machines upon his return to the American championship in 2003.

"Bostrom is well regarded by the Honda factory, and it is a relationship the factory and himself are keen to see carry on," explained Griffiths.

However, due to the late confirmation of the 2005 team, Renegade do not expect to be able to get much testing completed before the start of the season, at Qatar, on 26th February. But with Bostrom being familiar with the Fireblade and the WSBK tracks, Griffiths does not see this as a problem.

"Ben is no stranger to the bike, and the team are pretty confident, with the help we are receiving from Honda Europe and the skill of our own engineers, to have everything ready well in advance for when we fly out to Qatar. The only thing Ben doesn't know is the Pirelli tyres," detailed Griffiths.

When questioned as to why they would run only one rider this season, Griffiths replied: "Only having one rider allows us to concentrate our efforts and financial resources to a much higher degree, giving Ben and the team the best chance of winning."

Fan favourite Pier-Francesco Chili was also in the picture for the Renegade ride, but finally decided to take his newly found Honda support to Klaffi, a former World Supersport team.

Griffiths admitted that other riders in the picture were not anything to get excited about, helping him in his decision to run only one rider this year.

Meanwhile, Renegade will keep Koji as their title sponsor, with Griffiths adding that a large number of Italian firms have shown interest in sponsorship opportunities since the rumours started circulating about the team's move to Italy and partnership with Honda.

The first round of the 2005 World Superbike championship will take place at Qatar on the 26th of February.