Toni Elias has expressed his joy at sealing a last minute deal to get on the World Superbike Championship grid in 2014 with Red Devils Roma Aprilia.
The Spaniard made a splash in his appearance with the satellite team during the closing stages of the 2013 season, the former MotoGP rider making an impressive transition from Moto2 for the final four events with a view to a full-time deal this year.
However, with most manufacturer-backed teams firming their rider line-ups early and the remaining satellite contingent turning its attention to the EVO class, Elias's hopes of securing a championship-class privateer machine appeared to hinge on whether Red Devils Roma could source enough funds.
Indeed, the Italian outfit seemed on the cusp of withdrawing from the series after non-payment from its sponsors, but has worked hard to put its plans in order, with Elias set to ride an RSV4 from the opening round in Australia, much to his delight.
"There have been rumours for long time and everybody thought it was already a done deal, but actually there were some details still to be sorted out. It's been a long winter because of it, but everyone worked out to keep this project going forward. There were some doubts about me racing at Phillip Island, but it's a great pleasure to know I will be there for both official tests and the first round."
"I enjoyed racing World Superbikes in 2013, even though only four rounds. Unfortunately I missed the podium, but I had good moments as well. This is the reason why I managed to work very well during the winter even though I was not sure about my future. I owe a lot to Dorna, Aprilia, my manager and everyone who make this project possible."
As one of only two riders to be competing outside of the seven nominated manufacturer teams in the championship class (the other being Imre Toth on a BMW), Elias is setting his initial sights on getting a maiden WSBK podium.
"I haven't set any goal for 2014. It's obvious that I would like to step on the podium as I narrowly missed it last year in the final race. I hope to keep improving, but there's a lot of hard work to do and I need to be realistic at the beginning."
Fifteen entries will comprise the main championship class in 2014, with two bikes each for Kawasaki Racing, Aprilia Racing, PATA Honda, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, Ducati Superbike Team, Team Hero EBR, while MV Agusta's new factory effort adds a bike for Claudio Corti.
Red Devils Roma Aprilia's Elias and Toth, who will ride the only championship class BMW, make up the sole satellite championship class bikes, with a further 12 bikes listed to compete in the new EVO class.