Marco Melandri will make his World Superbike championship comeback with Aruba.it Racing Ducati after being confirmed as Chaz Davies' team-mate for the 2017 season, while Davide Giugliano will leave the team.
The former 250cc world champion had been strongly linked to a return to World Superbikes with firm financial backing and has duly been confirmed as the replacement for the axed Giugliano at the factory Ducati squad.
Aruba.it Racing Ducati has also officially announced the expected retention of Davies on a new two-year deal, confirming the Welsh rider will stay in World Superbikes for at least 2017. Davies will once again team-up with Melandri with the pair having been team-mates in 2013 at the factory BMW squad.
Melandri returns to the Ducati fold for the first time since 2008 in MotoGP and has missed the last year-and-a-half of racing having split from Aprilia's MotoGP squad midway through last year after underwhelming results.
Despite the extended period away from competition, the 33-year-old is relishing the opportunity of getting back up to speed with the factory Ducati squad and is confident the Panigale R will 'perfectly suit my riding style'.
“I'm really excited to come back to racing, it's a dream come true,” Melandri said. “I always said I was only interested in a top bike and top team, and I could not have asked for more.
“I kept following WorldSBK closely, and I'm confident the Panigale R can perfectly suit my riding style. We'll just have to take one step at a time, but the potential is surely high.
“I know it won't be easy to get back up to speed, but I have all the time to step on the bike, do laps and make sure I'm ready for the first test: to this end, I will skip the holidays to train on a street version of the Panigale R.”
The double announcement also sees Davies confirm he will staying within the Ducati fold for the next two years and is solely focused on securing a maiden World Superbike championship title.
“I'm extremely happy to renew my professional relationship with Ducati for two more seasons,” Davies said. “The continuity element is really important in our job, and so far we've made great strides and got progressively closer to our goal.
“Now we can fight for the win practically on every track, and I'm confident we can make further improvements. Moreover, to race for Ducati is something special: everything is done with heart and passion, you really feel part of a family and have a direct connection between the production and racing. It's going to be exciting.”