Michel Fabrizio will make a surprising return to the World Supersport class with Motozoo Puccetti Racing Kawasaki for the 2021 season.
Fabrizio will be making his first start in the FIM WorldSSP class since 2005, and first appearance back in the paddock since his 2016 World Superbike campaign.
Speaking ahead of the new season and what he hopes to accomplish, Fabrizio said: "I expect 'little' from myself, in the sense that I am setting out to win at least one race. I'm aiming for a top ten final position.
"It will be a very intense season and I am aware that the first race will be very important to understand how much we will have to work to get there."
While it has been a considerable amount of time since he last competed at this level, Fabrizio has remained busy within the sport during his years away.
The 36 year-old has spent a lot of time coaching during this period. "The first two years I was the team manager of one of my teams that participated in the Italian championship in the Moto3 class and with which we won the title of vice-champions at national level.
"In 2018 I was engaged as a rider in the Italian 600 championship, then I worked as a talent scout for boys aged between 10 and 14 engaged with Ohvale bikes. I also manage a kart track in Civitavecchia, on the Lazio coast north of Rome."
Fabrizio has already had a couple of outings with his new bike at Vallelunga circuit, and will have more track-time at Misano and the official Dorna run tests between now and the beginning of the season.
The return to World Supersport came about quickly for Fabrizio, which began in late December. "On December 26th I was at home on the sofa; I was watching the Lupine TV series on Netflix," said the Italian.
"At some point I recieved a message from a friend. I asked him 'listen, do you know if there are teams in Supersport still without riders? His response was 'I hear Manuel Puccetti'.
"So, I sent a message to Manuel saying, 'do you want to take an old man on your team?'. His answer was let’s speak tomorrow."
The Puccetti Racing Team will have a blend of experience with Fabrizio and youth in rookie rider Shogo Kawasaki.
The team has also decided to take a unique apporach to avoid any restriction issues, as the pair will spend time away from the track together. “I am very happy to have Shogo Kawasaki as my teammate," said Fabrizio.
"Together with 'Fabietto' we have decided that - to avoid the complications related to the restrictions in terms of travel from Japan caused by the pandemic - during the season Shogo will stay at my house for a month and at his house for a month. We will make friends and train together.”
The Supersport class has been widely competitive in recent seasons, with championship battles going down to the wire on multiple occasions - 2019 is a prime example.
Current series champion and former Moto2 rider Andrea Locatelli has moved up to WorldSBK for 2021, while 2019 champion Randy Krummenacher returns to the championship.