Hector Barbera will stand in for the injured Leandro Mercado at the Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki squad for the Assen World Superbike round, capping an eventful two days after splitting with Team Toth by Willirace Yamaha.

The former MotoGP racer parted company with the World Supersport squad on the Sunday morning before the Aragon race, with media report speculating a lack of funding and a bike theft were involved in the split, but the Spanish rider steps up to the World Superbike championship this weekend to fill in for Mercado.

The Argentine rider suffered a left scaphoid fracture and is set to undergo surgery this week after crashing in an incident involving Alessandro Delbianco in race one at Aragon. Given the tight turnaround to the Assen round, Mercado has already been ruled out and is targeting a return at Imola (May 10-12).

Barbera has duly been called up to make his World Superbike debut as Mercado’s injury replacement and is relishing the opportunity.

“It’s unfortunate to get this opportunity due to another colleague’s injury, all my thoughts go out to Tati and I wish him a speedy recovery,” Barbera said. “I’m going to give everything for Orelac Racing VerdNautra, they are fully prepared.

“I think that WorldSBK is my category. The team ticks the right boxes and I’m more than ready. Life sometimes gives you an opportunity like this and I want to make the most of it.

“Thank you to Jose and Nacho Calero because they made this possible, I want to pay back their trust with a good result.”

Barbera lost his Moto2 ride at the Pons Racing squad last May after being convicted of drink-driving in Spain. The 32-year-old joined the World Supersport grid with Puccetti Racing for the final four rounds of the 2018 campaign before securing a short-lived stint with Team Toth by Willirace at the start of 2019.

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