Niccolo Canepa is setting his sights high ahead of the new season as Althea Racing pulled the wraps off its Ducati entry for the 2014 World Superbike Championship EVO class.
The Italian firm, title winners with Carlos Checa and Ducati in 2011, return to the manufacturer in 2014 after a year collaborating with Aprilia, but will be concentrating its efforts in the newly-created EVO class.
The only Ducati 1199 Panigale to be entered into the EVO category, the manufacturer will provide Althea Racing assistance in its quest to lift the inaugural trophy, as well as give it a reference point for regulations that are expected to influence the entire series in 2015.
Heading up Althea Racing's title charge is Canepa, who returns to World Superbikes after finishing runner-up in the Superstock 1000 class in 2014.
With a competitive 12-strong field of EVO entries, including former SSTK1000 rivals Sylvain Barrier and Jeremy Guarnoni, Canepa is aware of the challenges ahead, but is confident he has the right backing to succeed.
“I'm very happy to become part of a winning family such as the Althea team. I am a member of a great team and know that I will have everything I need, both from a human and technical point of view. I just have to work on myself in order to make the most of this potential. We haven't been able to test yet but we will do that in Australia in a couple of weeks.
“I know the Panigale well, having ridden it last year, both in races and development tests and this will help me to be quickly competitive. It won't be easy of course, but our aim is to be consistently inside the front group.”
With an experienced racer at the helm, one that has garnered results at MotoGP, Moto2, Superbike and Superstock level, Althea Racing team manager Genesio Bevilacqua is confident the combination of Canepa and Ducati will prove a formidable one.
“We are pleased and enthusiastic about embarking on this new adventure in the World Superbike Championship, competing in the Evo, the category of the future. It will undoubtedly be an interesting experience both for my team and for Ducati, that trusts us to develop the Panigale 1199 R in this new class.
“I have faith in Canepa, a young but already expert rider, who up until now has perhaps not had the chance to demonstrate his full potential. We will make all of the experience that our team has gained over the years available to our rider, to allow him to compete at the highest levels.”