Reigning British Superbike champion's Monstermob Ducati have turned down offers from world championship stars and signed established BSB hero Sean Emmett for the 2004 season.

33-year-old Emmett will replace MotoGP bound Shane 'Shakey' Byrne in the Paul Bird Motorsport squad, which will field factory supported 999 machinery next season.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for me to prove what I'm capable of after the injuries and uncertainties of the past few seasons," said Emmett who finished fifth in the 2003 title chase.

"As soon as I talked with Paul, I knew I wanted to ride for the team," he added. "There were a few things to sort out and I had offers still coming in but I had no doubts in my mind that this was the team for me. After all, just look at their success record over the past three years, why wouldn't I want to be part of that?"

Emmett spent four seasons in the 500cc world championship between 1993 and 1996, scoring a best final placing of 15th in 1994, before returning to race full time in the UK domestic series commencing in 1997.

An injury affected year in 1998 saw him salvage ninth in the series before a move to Ducati machinery heralded sixth place in 1999 aboard a Reve Red Bull bike. An abortive year on an uncompetitive Honda SP1 followed in 2000 before he was reunited with the Reve Red Bull Ducati team in 2001, where he finished in third place.

It was that season that Sean is best remembered when, after being injured early in the season, he magnanimously helped team mate John Reynolds to the title, ironically pipping MonsterMob's Steve Hislop, who was injured at the penultimate round.

2002 saw Emmett take the title battle with Hislop to the final round despite having to change teams mid season from the IFC Ducati to a Virgin Mobile Yamaha R1. However, a crash saw him leave Donington with a broken wrist and only third place for his troubles.

History was to repeat itself, in a fashion, when 2003 saw Emmett forced to change teams from Renegade Ducati to ETI Ducati (lower pictures) after a 'falling out' with Renegade boss Mark Giffiths.

Meanwhile, Monstermob team owner Paul Bird was left with a difficult decision as he contemplated Byrne's replacement - with no shortage of offers from out of work international stars, rumoured to include Noriyuki Haga and Andrew Pitt - but decided Emmett was the man to front an unprecedented championship hat trick bid.

"At one point, there were around a dozen names in the hat and the team and I had some serious decision making to do," explained Bird. "We took our time as we wanted to make sure we had the right person to give us our best chance of the hat-trick. Sean's Ducati experience was an important factor and we will continue with our proven formula of gearing the team around him."

Michael Laverty has already been announced as riding for Monstermob Ducati's British Supersport team.

 

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