Marco Melandri will return to the WorldSBK Championship just months after announcing his retirement from the sport after being drafted in to replace Leon Camier at Barni Ducati.

It’s been around 12 months since Melandri announced he was hanging up his helmet at the end of the 2020 season but despite only effectively missing WorldSBK race, he will be back in the saddle from round two in Jerez.

The deal has been made possible by Camier’s premature departure from the Barni Ducati outfit after the Briton was dropped due to ongoing fitness concerns.

The move reunites Melandri and Ducati machinery, which is seen as the biggest factor in his decision to return to the fray given he left the factory team at the end of the 2018 season just as it introduced the new Panigale V4 R.

“The situation was quite surreal, in normal conditions I never thought I'd come back, then it seemed like fate chose for me. This long and quite period has regenerated me and made me slip away all the negative things I was focusing on before. Going back to the track once it was enough to rediscover all positive feelings that only a bike can give me.

“Then one by one almost incredible situations lined up: not having had the chance to ride the Ducati Panigale V4 R was a regret and now the opportunity is there, on the Barni Racing Team’s bike there are Showa suspensions and since MotoGP period I always have felt great with those products.

“It's going to be a championship with only six races, all in Europe on tracks that I like, so it's going to be a limited and time-focused effort. If there was anyone who could convince me to come back it was Marco Barnabò.

“I think the Barni Racing Team is the right team for me, a “small family” where there is a desire to grow but also to have fun working with passion. I’m aware that I will have a winning bike and the best components, would also like to thank Claudio Domenicali, Gigi Dall'Igna e Paolo Ciabatti, and the whole Ducati team for this opportunity.”