Superstock 1000 front runner Riccardo Russo will step up to the World Superbike Championship in 2017 as part of a Yamaha deal that will also see the Guandalini Racing team return to the series.
The 24 year-old competed with the factory Yamaha team in this year's Superstock 1000 Cup, scoring a podium at the Lausitzring in what was otherwise an injury-hampered season.
Though Russo says he had the option to stay with the Yamaha factory team at Superstock level, he will instead step up to the Superbike class next season riding a Yamaha R1 prepared by Guandalini Racing.
“I am very happy to be part of the World Superbike Championship next season because I believe it is right to enter the new category with the best team,” he said. “I had the chance to do another year in STK1000 for Yamaha, but I want to thank Andrea Dosoli trusting that I could make the step up to the top category.
“I also want to thank Mirco Guandalini for this opportunity and I hope that we can show Yamaha that we deserve all the support they give us and more. Making predictions about next year is difficult at this point, but for sure I will try to do my best, I will try to get as much experience as I can, but I am already familiar with Yamaha so I am feeling positive.”
The deal also signals a return to World Superbikes for the Guandalini Racing team, which scored pole positions and podiums with Jakub Smrz between 2008 and 2010 using Ducati and Aprilia machinery.
“It's with great pleasure that we have reached this agreement with Riccardo. He is a rider that I've worked with this past season and I respect him very much for his different qualities and he is a fast racer. It will not be easy considering the competitiveness of the Championship; our goal is to be the best private team. We are working to prepare the best the package for Russo to do his best.”