Yonny Hernandez says he’s determined to “do a great job” on his rookie World Superbike campaign having signed for Pedercini Kawasaki, amid rumours linking him to the MotoGP Tech 3 Yamaha ride to replace Jonas Folger.

Hernandez signed for Pedercini Kawasaki at the end of last year in preparation for the 2018 World Superbike championship and was present at the team’s launch at Motorbike Expo in Verona this weekend.

The Columbian rider had been linked with the vacant Monster Tech 3 Yamaha ride after last week’s shock announcement that Jonas Folger would miss the entire 2018 season in order to fully recover from Gilbert’s syndrome – a genetic illness which ruled him out of the final four races of last season.

Hernandez remains in contention for a role with Tech 3 for the first official MotoGP test of 2018 at Sepang on the 28-30 January, with the 29-year-old avoiding any clashes with his pre-season testing at Pedercini Kawasaki, but it is unlikely he’ll make the full-time move this year. Hernandez competed in MotoGP between 2012 and 2016 before taking a step back to Moto2 but split with AGR Team midway through last year.

Speaking at the Pedercini Kawasaki launch, Hernandez says he’s relishing his maiden campaign in the World Superbike championship as he targets getting up to speed in the production-based series ahead of the 2018 season opener at Phillip Island on the 23-25 February.

"I am happy to have arrived in the World Superbike Championship with a very strong bike,” Hernandez said. “I know that the championship is hard fought and that with the new regulations the gaps have been reduced, so it will be important for me to understand the bike as soon as possible. I've already had a test with the team, and I think we can do a great job in the coming season."

Team manager Lucio Pedercini has echoed Hernandez’s sentiments and is confident for a strong 2018 season having seen his team rotate through three riders with its sole entry last year. Pedercini Kawasaki failed to secure a single top 10 finish in World Superbikes throughout last season.

“I am very happy with the contract that will see us working with Yonny Hernandez, who we tested with at Jerez at the end of last season,” Pedercini said. “He is a very strong rider, he has a talent that is still to be discovered, and I believe that when he begins to understand the bike, he will be very competitive.

“I am very confident about this and I think that with this bike and rider package we will be a tough one to beat.”

2018 sees just two rounds on the MotoGP and World Superbike calendars clash, with the first being MotoGP’s trip to the United States and World Superbikes at Assen on the 20-22 April while the second is the World Superbike season finale in Qatar which is on the same weekend as the Australian MotoGP round on 26-28 October.

Tech 3 is currently considering its options to replace Folger for 2018, while a final decision yet to be taken on who would ride for the team at the Sepang test.