Today at Valencia, Luis d'Antin and Ducati Corse announced the worst kept secret in MotoGP: That the pair would join forces to run a two bike satellite team for the 2004 season 'onwards', with 2003 World Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson making his return to the premier GP class as one of the riders.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for me racing against the very best riders in the World," said Hodgson who raced in the 500cc World Championship up until 1995 when he took up Superbike Racing. "It will be tough but I'm really looking forward to a new challenge. I respect all the MotoGP riders but I'm not overawed by any of them. When Carl Fogarty was World Superbike Champion he never switched to MotoGP and so I'm glad to be able to have the opportunity to compete against the likes of Valentino Rossi."

Hodgson will test the MotoGP Ducati for the first time in December.

"We are very pleased to begin this new adventure with Ducati," added Luis d'Antin. "We are certain that the arrival of the Desmosedici, which has proved to be a competitive bike in its debut season, will enable our team to achieve some brilliant results that will help to contribute to the ever-increasing spectacle in the top class of motorcycle racing."

The Spanish former racer also confirmed that the team will receive direct technical support from Ducati Corse, but was unable to name Hodgson's team-mate - who will instead be revealed 'in the coming weeks'.

"Right from the start of the MotoGP project, we decided that we would make our bikes available to other teams," stated Ducati Corse managing director Claudio Domenicali. "It gives us great pleasure therefore to announce that we will now also be present in this championship with a satellite team - Team d?Antin - which demonstrates that the Desmosedici is already a very competitive bike."

Luis D'Antin currently runs Shinya Nakano in a one rider Yamaha supported team. Nakano's future remains in doubt, despite being the only rider other than Valentino Rossi to have scored points in every GP this season, since both his ride - and the other d'Antin grid slot currently rented by Pramac Honda for Makoto Tamada - will now both be used for the new d'Antin Ducati outfit.

Hodgson's 2003 WSBK team-mate Ruben Xaus has been closely linked with the second d'Antin seat, but of note is that by failing to announce the Brit's team-mate, Ducati still have a theoretical chance of placing Valentino Rossi on a Desmosedici next season, although Yamaha remains the most likely destination.



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