It has been announced that Neil Hodgson's Ducati Fila team-mate, Ruben Xaus, will graduate alongside him to MotoGP next season in the new d'Antin Ducati outfit.

Xaus had been confirmed as leaving WSBK at the final round in Magny-Cours, when Regis Laconi and James Toseland were announced as Ducati's 2004 factory riders. The Spaniard then found himself at odds with his Bologna based employers, who wanted him to spearhead their AMA SBK assault - while he held out for a MotoGP ride.

But following Valentino Rossi's move to Yamaha, Xaus was placed in a much stronger position to claim the final Desmosedici seat, while team owner Luis d'Antin also stated that he wanted a fellow Spaniard (partly for sponsorship reasons) alongside Hodgson.

"I'm excited with the new challenge and would like to personally thank Luis d'Antin for counting on me. I'm going to give it all, 200% for him and for the team," said a delighted Xaus, famous for his thrilling riding style - and frequent crashes. "I'm happy to be on Spanish team and to continue with Neil, I have a good relationship with him and off the tracks we respect each other.

"I've been with Ducati for the past four years and I'm pleased to keep on, but until now I haven't had the opportunity of trying the GP bike and I'm looking forward to it," added the 2003 WSBK runner-up.

"I'm pleased and satisfied to have Neil and Ruben with us next year," said d'Antin, who ran Shinya Nakano in a one rider Yamaha team this season. "Both are a great charm and the whole team will do their best to have everything ready for them.

"I have great faith in both and if we observe this season's results of other riders that have come from Superbikes, I truly believe that we can expect the best of both," concluded the former racer, refering to the impressive performances seen by Colin Edwards, Troy Bayliss and Nicky Hayden this season.

Both Hodgson and Xaus will ride their Desmosedici V4s for the first time on December 10th-12th, at Valencia.

Meanwhile, Eric Bostrom is now being tipped to spearhead Ducati's AMA SBK assault, while Fonsi Nieto - who had an outside chance of the second d'Antin seat - looks set to stay in 250s next season.



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