Raffaele de Rosa is set to make his World Superbike Championship debut this season after making a surprise appearance on the provisional 2012 entry list.
The Italian, who has competed in Moto2 for the last two years, is listed to compete on a Honda CBR1000RR prepared by the Italian-based Pro Ride outfit.
Though de Rosa has struggled to make an impression since Moto2 began in 2010, he was a two-time podium winner in the preceding 250GP category and he completed the 2009 season in sixth position overall.
Looking ahead to 2012, he is excited to be joining the World Superbike ranks for the first time.
"I am very happy to be part of this project," said de Rosa. "I like the way Marco Nicotari thinks and I believe in the way he wants to manage the team and on the conditions his company offered to me. I found at Pro Ride a family rapport and this is something elementary but unusual inside the pit garage and until now this was missing element for me.
"Changing championship does not scare me at all. I do not expect to be fast at the very first moment, but for sure I am looking for results and satisfaction. I would like to be one of the first among the “rookies” of 2012 and honestly I think this can be done. But as the World Superbikes is a new situation for me, I do not have much idea of the way the other bikes behave and the challenges I'll face ahead. But I believe that Marco, with all his experience, together with the team, will be able to help me to take the best from our Honda.
"It would be perfect if Honda, with whom I made my best results on the 250gp – could give us some support. I am ready to Phillip Island: as it is one of my favorite tracks, I am coming motivated to take the best of my Fireblade!”
Pro Ride has had a tumultuous association with the World Superbike Championship, submitting entries in 2009 and 2010, but failing to make it onto the grid on both occasions. However, it was involved with MZ Racing's Moto2 effort in 2011 and is now seemingly keen to make it onto the WSBK grid in 2012.
“After 3 long years of hard working, we are finally able to start the Team Pro Ride Motorsports where I wanted, in the World Superbikes," said team manager Marco Nicotari. "We made a different road last year with the Moto2 – that brought a new experience to my company, but we are finally here.
"At this moment there is not much to tell but much to be done. We are coming back to where Pro Ride has been created and with a lot of energy to represent our way of making races: bike and its development at first place.
Raffaele is the rider we were looking for, a young man full of talent, values and strength.
"We re-start in a humble way, from the beginning and aiming to reach results, be professionals and for sure work together with our technical sponsors, brands that are with us for such a long time and have never left us during the hard times. We are happy with the possibility of making a precise job and giving Raffaele the working environment that he wanted.
"At Phillip Island we will see the way our bike will behave and we will then be able to make an accurate strategy for the season. It won't be easy, the level is really high, but there are a lot of motivation."