Leandro Mercado will remain on the World Superbike championship grid for 2018 after securing a deal with Orelac Racing VerdNatura which is set to step up to the Superbike class next yet.

The Spanish squad currently runs Nacho Calero in the World Supersport championship and has made the move to WSBK for 2018 after agreeing a deal with Mercado who will ride a Kawaski ZX-10RR.

Mercado, who will celebrate a home round in Argentina for 2018, impressed during his truncated 2017 campaign having missed the opening two rounds in Australia and Thailand as well as the final round in Qatar.

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The Argentine was a consistent top ten challenger for IodaRacing Aprilia with his best result being sixth place in race two at Magny-Cours.

Mercado’s new team, run by team principal Jose Calero, is bracing for a tough maiden World Superbike campaign but is relishing the challenge ahead in 2018.

“The step up to WorldSBK is a big one and nobody here is underestimating the amount of hard work that has to be done,” Calero said. “It is a very big challenge, but one that we are all excited about.

“When we made the decision to go to WorldSBK next year, Giulio Bardi and I were in contact with quite a few riders. Our talks with Tati were very constructive and we were able to come to a good agreement thanks to Arturo Scalise of Kawasaki Argentina.”