Gregorio Lavilla is to return to the World Superbike Championship in 2008 after being confirmed as the lone rider for the Paul Bird Motorsport team.

The former Kawasaki and Suzuki rider will make the move after three years in the British Superbike Championship with Airwaves Ducati, where he secured the championship title back in 2005.

Now he will join Bird's team as it graduates to the World Superbike stage with its factory-backed Honda.

"It has always been my aim to get back into the World Superbike Championship on a competitive bike and I'm very grateful to Paul Bird and his team for this opportunity," Lavilla said. "I have enjoyed my time in BSB very much and I'm sad to be leaving as I have made many good friends and it has been a good time for my career.

"I'd like to say thank you to my fans and not only do I have a home race in Spain next season, but I have two more 'home' races in England and I'm very much looking forward to it."

Although backing is already in place from team sponsors for the season ahead, no decision has yet been taken on what branding Lavilla will carry on his bike, with an announcement to be made in due course. However, with his rider now signed, Bird said he was looking forward to the coming season and the opening rounds of the year in Qatar in February.

"It's back to our tried and tested formula of a one rider team and that's where we've had most of our successes in the past," the team boss said. "The team will be geared around Greg and he'll get everything he needs to make sure we have the best chance possible.

"It's a new venture for us but it's one that the whole team is very excited about and we aim to start testing very soon in readiness for the opening round in Qatar."