The Ducati Xerox Team has officially confirmed that Noriyuki Haga will replace retiring triple World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss for the 2009 season.
33-year-old Haga will ride alongside Michel Fabrizio, who will remain with the factory team for a second consecutive season.
"I am very proud to be able to welcome Noriyuki", commented Davide Tardozzi, Ducati Corse's Superbike team manager. "We are convinced he is one of the strongest and best loved of the Superbike riders, a talented and courageous man. He is a rider that has proved that he never gives up, in the true spirit of Ducati, and is a rider with the credentials to fill the place that Troy Bayliss vacates.
"Haga will, for the first time, ride a factory Ducati, and I am certain that he will win over the Ducatisti fans and bring great satisfaction. We are very proud to have him in next year's squad together with Michel. They are two fantastic riders and we will do everything to ensure that they can achieve the great results that everyone hopes are possible."
Haga's 33 race wins means he is currently joint third with Troy Corser on the all time WSBK win list, and the most successful rider without a WSBK title.
Nitro Nori's only previous Ducati experience is on a customer-spec 999 run by the British-based Renegade team during 2004, when the Japanese rebuilt his reputation after a difficult season in MotoGP by claiming six race wins and a close third in the championship.
Those results helped secure a return to Yamaha - with whom Haga made his full time WSBK debut in 1998 and raced with until 2000 - for 2005, where he has remained ever since. Haga finished runner-up in the WSBK championship in 2000 and 2007, and is currently second in the 2008 standings with one round to go.
Haga's impending Ducati move was reported by Crash.net
on September 8.