Petronas, Malaysia's national petroleum corporation, has confirmed that it will race its high-performance GP1 motorcycle engine from the fifth leg of the 2002 World Superbike Championship next year.

The event takes place at Monza on 12 May 2002, and the petroleum giant will collaborate with four-time WSBK champion Carl Fogarty to form a racing team - Foggy Petronas Racing - to participate in the rest of the championship. The team will use all-new machines featuring the engine jointly developed by Petronas and the engineering arm of the Sauber Formula One team. The partnership with Fogarty, widely rumoured in the media of late, will run initially for a period of five years.

To meet the requirements for the team's entry into the championship, Petronas has also agreed to build a road-going version of the GP1 motorcycle engine, making it the first Malaysian-built superbike.

This development comes only a month after Petronas rolled out the prototype of the four-stroke, three-cylinder 989cc engine, fitted in the chassis of a prototype motorcycle at the Sepang F1 circuit in Malaysia in October. The engine is now undergoing further developments to adapt to the WSBK regulations.

Work on the GP1 engine has been carried out by Swiss-based SPE, a 60:40 joint venture between Sauber and Petronas, since July 2000. The SPE project team, comprising a group of Sauber and Petronas engineers, successfully conducted the first firing of the engine in December last year and the prototype was unveiled at Suzuka in April, before the opening of the 2001 Moto GP season. The prototype was further enhanced before the October roll-out at Sepang.

The project is a result of Petronas' commitment to developing and nurturing indigenous skills in the high-level automotive engine design and development as an extension of its involvement as a sponsor of the Sauber Petronas Formula One Team.

Further details of both team and bike will be announced at the team launch scheduled to be held in Malaysia in January.