Loris Baz has confirmed his expected return to the World Superbike championship after signing for Althea BMW for the 2018 season.

The French rider has spent the past three campaigns in MotoGP having moved from World Superbikes at the end of 2014 from Kawasaki – a switch which paved the way for Jonathan Rea to join the Japanese manufacturer – and is set to make a comeback on the factory-backed Althea BMW as a one-rider effort.

Baz, a two-time WSBK race winner, is intrigued to see how he can get up to speed in the production-based series ahead of the new regulations for 2018 but is confident it is a positive move for his future.

“I wanted to find the best solution for my future and I think I have found this in team Althea,” Baz said. “I have known Genesio [Bevilacqua, team owner] for a long time, so we talked and, to be honest, it was very easy to come to an agreement.

“I know the team is strong – they won the title with Carlos Checa after all [in 2011] – and I consider the project a very interesting one, also in light of the changes to the regulation.

“I’m very happy with my decision. I want to thank Genesio Bevilacqua and BMW of course, and am looking forward to getting out on track with the S1000RR for the first time during the upcoming Jerez tests.”

Althea BMW team boss Bevilacqua, who opted to switch to the German manufacturer from Ducati machinery in 2016, has faith Baz can guide the team using his experience and success in the series and led the former world champions’ charge back to the sharp-end of the grid after a difficult couple of years.

“It’s a time of great change in Superbike and the arrival of the new regulation, as well as an ‘explosive’ rider as courageous and determined as Loris Baz, does not just reignite my personal enthusiasm and that of the team, but also that of the championship itself,” Bevilacqua said.

“We are aware of the challenge that we face, as we will once again be battling factory teams that have some very fierce riders, but I think that we have everything we need to be able to fight on a level playing field in 2018, targeting results that are more in line with the level and prestige of Althea and the BMW factory.

“I therefore welcome Loris, on behalf of the entire team. We are looking forward to working with him.”

Baz will make his Althea BMW testing debut at Jerez for the first winter test on the 20-21 November.

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Baz deserved to stay in MotoGP imho but if they can't recognise genuine ability WSB can so MotoGP's loss is WSB's gain, good luck LB !!

Best of luck mixing it on the BMW with the Kawasakis, Ducatis and Yamahas. He has the riding pedigree to do it, and hopefully the new regulations will even out the machine performance.

The series sorely needs a bike/rider combination that can shake things up.

I'm hopeful that Camier on the Honda and Baz on the BMW might challenge the Kawasaki/Ducati parades. Yamaha showed some green shoots by the end of tghe season too.

To think this used to be THE most exciting racing series. Seems like decades ago now!