Former World Superbike champions Althea Racing has announced Jordi Torres and Markus Reiterberger as its new riders for the 2016 campaign while also switching to BMW machinery.
Althea has ended its partnership with Ducati, having famously claimed the 2011 World Superbike crown with Carlos Checa, and heads into a new era next season with BMW.
The Italian team has signed a two-year deal to receive technical support from BMW Motorrad Motorsport, who will supply the engine and electronics while the team will be responsible for developing the bike.
“I'm delighted to cooperate with BMW,” Genesio Bevilacqua, team general manager, said. “Each team member is fully committed to this new challenge and, now, we're ready for the first day of the 2016 season.
"Next week, the team will be in Jerez for the shake down of the new bikes, the first small steps on what will be a long journey. I'm very looking forward to repaying the trust that BMW Motorrad Motorsport has put in my team in the form of good performance on the racetrack during the 2016 season.”
Torres says he is relishing the challenge of getting up to speed with a new team after leaving the factory Aprilia squad as well as working with the BMW S1000RR.
“The option to race with a team as professional as Althea Racing and with such a significant brand as BMW motivates me,” Torres said on worldsbk.com. “It motivates it because, we know there is work to do both for the team and myself, but we know that the BMW is a competitive bike and that there is so much room for improvement with it.
"That will be the objective for 2016: make a big step forward with the BMW and the team and gel well for a smooth and successful partnership. From that point onwards, we'll be looking for the smoothest and most appropriate route to taking this bike to success.”
Torres enjoyed an impressive rookie WSBK campaign with Aprilia in 2015 after switching over from the Moto2 world championship. The Spaniard finished fifth in the riders' standings with the crowning glory of a maiden WSBK win in race one at Qatar, along with three other rostrum results.
The 28-year-old says he fully understands the scale of his task to develop the BMW into a race-winning package in 2016 and will begin his winter testing schedule next week in Jerez.
“There is pressure on me to perform, of that there is no doubt,” he explained. “At Aprilia we knew the bike I had was very good and I didn't have such a responsibility of needing to develop it quite so much. If anybody had that pressure, it was my team-mate Leon Haslam and not so much me, as I was in my first year of WSBK.
“Now it's my turn. It's my turn to develop a machine and I see that as a positive thing. I have matured a lot as a rider and learned a lot of new things.”
Torres will be joined by two-time German IDM Superbike champion (2013 and 2015) Reiterberger who will begin his rookie WSBK campaign next year.
The Althea BMW Racing Team will also compete in the FIM Superstock 1000 series in 2016 with the BMW S1000RR with Raffaele De Rosa, who finished third in the Superstock class this season.