The final seat on the 2011 World Superbike grid has been filled with the confirmation that Mark Aitchison will step up from Supersports to contest the season with Pedercini Kawasaki.
Several riders have been linked with the ride of the last few weeks, most notably Gabor Talmacsi, who tested with the team at Sepang last month.
However, his apparent reluctance to join the Superbike ranks has enabled Aitchison to assume the position, the Australian getting a shot in the premier class having persevered with Supersport for the last three seasons.
Making his debut on the international stage in 2007 by finishing fifth in the Superstock series, Aitchison had the honour of finishing as the top Triumph Supersport rider with 14th in 2008 before progressing to ninth and a maiden podium finish in 2009 after switching to the more competitive Althea Honda.
Though he spent much of 2010 on the sidelines after failing to land full-time a deal, Aitchison did end the year with Kuja Honda.
Naturally, Aitchison, who will ride the bike for the first time at the Phillip Island test, is thrilled to be moving up to Superbikes, where he will be joining Roberto Rolfo in riding the new Kawasaki ZX-10R.
"To say I am excited now about my season ahead is a major understatement,” he said. “To race in the World SBK class has always been a dream of mine and to be given this opportunity with a team that has such long history in World Superbike racing is something I am very proud of.
“I would like to thank all the Pedercini family for giving me such a wonderful chance to be a part of their team and I look forward to repaying their faith in me by giving all my motivation and dedication toward this project. In Phillip Island I'll be riding and racing the bike for the first time, so even though it will not be easy, I understand that this is a long season.
“The new Kawasaki package looks amazing, the bike is relative in size to its 600cc counterpart and after I have some laps under my belt I'm sure my technicians and I will have a much clearer understanding for the development of the bike and how we need to improve to reach our goals. I'm extremely looking forward to this new challenge, and I'm especially looking forward to getting back onto the Phillip Island circuit, which I love to race on.”