Former Thai grand prix star Ratthapark Wilairot has signed with PTR Honda for the 2014 World Supersport Championship.
A 250cc/Moto2 racer from 2007onwards, Wilairot 'retired' midway through a difficult 2013 season with Gresini and was replaced by countryman Thitipong Warokorn.
Honda Thailand later stated that, rather than retirement, Wilairot was being given 'a period of rest in order to recover his motivation', leaving the door open to a potential grand prix return.
However the 25-year-old has chosen to make a fresh start in WSS.
“I am really happy to be racing for Core PTR Honda in the World Supersport Championship. Our aims are the same. We want to race at the front and challenge for the podium. I think together we will be able to do this and I am looking forward to getting to know the team and bike better.”
PTR Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “We are excited to have Ratthapark join us as he has undoubted talent and raw speed as he has proved in Moto2 and 250GP. He is a quick rider that I think will benefit from having one of the best bikes in the Championship and a team fully behind him as he goes for the best results possible.
“Ratthapark will race in Core PTR Honda colours but he will benefit from being in the same garage as Jack Kennedy on the CIA PTR Honda bike. Nacho Calero on the other CIA PTR Honda bike will also benefit from the experience and speed around him.
“Together I think these racers will push and encourage each other to achieve the best they can and we are looking forward to testing in January already. We are looking to announce a fourth rider to complete the squad as soon as possible.”
Thailand's first grand prix rider, Wilairot claimed a best championship ranking of 13th in both 2008 and 2009.
The four-stroke Moto2 era began promisingly when Wilairot claimed what would be career best fourth place - less than a tenth of a second from the podium - on a Bimota chassis at Assen, although he concluded the year 22nd overall.
But Wilairot suffered serious injuries in a road accident prior to 2011, then further injuries late that year when he was struck by Marc Marquez after the chequered flag had been waved during practice at Phillip Island, an incident the Spaniard was penalised for.
Aided by his loyal Honda and PTT backing, Wilairot switched to the Gresini team for 2012, but was left 27th in the standings, then failed to score a point during his eight starts this season.