Having left Kawasaki last Friday, Eric Bostrom has today been revealed as spearheading Ducati's attack on the 2004 AMA Superbike championship.
Bostrom was released by Kawasaki after they announced that the new ZX-10R wouldn't be raced in this year's AMA SBK championship - although relations had already been strained considerably by Kawasaki failing to offer Eric a clear route into MotoGP.
With Ducati now having four MotoGP grid slots available, Eric's new deal places him in with a real chance of a 2005 GP race seat with the Bologna based company, providing he can continue to impress in 2004.
In what is being billed as one of the most exciting challenges seen in North America's premier motorcycle racing series for many years, the 27-year old will form part of the factory-supported Ducati effort to claim the AMA title for the first time since 1994.
The world famous marque will be providing the machines and the technical support for the team, which will take part in the 18-race 2004 AMA Superbike schedule with the new Ducati 999
"We are extremely satisfied to have reached a two-year agreement with Eric Bostrom to take part in the AMA championship," declared Ducati Corse superbike director Paolo Ciabatti, "As well as being an extremely talented rider, Eric will also be an excellent 'ambassador' for Ducati in one of the most important strategic markets for our company.
"Thanks to the collaboration with Terry Gregoricka of Ducati Austin, who will make available the logistics structure, technicians and the experience of his team at their new Road Atlanta premises in a two-year deal, and with the appointment of a Ducati Corse engineer as technical director, we are certain that next year will see us obtain some important results."
Las Vegas resident Bostrom, who has four US national titles to his name, finished seventh overall in the 2003 Chevy Trucks AMA Superbike championship, but would surely have finished higher up the table had he not suffered a badly-dislocated right shoulder in a first turn pile-up during the opening lap of the Laguna Seca World Superbike race.
The American celebrated his birthday today [19 November] with the news that he would be leading the Ducati effort.
"I'm totally pumped to sign with Ducati," Bostrom admitted, "They've shown a huge commitment to step up their American Superbike campaign. Obviously, jumping onto the world championship machine brings high expectations but, at the moment, I just can't wait to get on the bike. Between the 999, myself and the Michelins, 2004 is going to be an exciting year. A year that will hopefully see a Ducati twin back on top in the US and give the Ducatisti something to cheer about."
Bostrom admitted that he was mindful of the switch from long-time partner Kawasaki, and hoped that his fans would follow him to his new team.
"I'd like to thank all of my fans and sponsors for their support during this time of change in my career," he said, "I've received lots of encouraging e-mails from my supporters and hope to continue giving everyone something to cheer about as my career continues to progress forward.
"Obviously, leaving Kawasaki USA was a tough decision. We really had great successes over the years and I really felt comfortable there, but I believe that joining the Ducati family is a positive step in the right direction for my career."
The Ducati 999, which will be racing for the first time in the AMA championship, will be able to count on the support of French tyre manufacturer Michelin, recreating a successful long-term partnership that has brought the two companies a total of seven world riders' titles, including the 2003 crown for Neil Hodgson in the Ducati 999's debut season.
"We are delighted to be able to continue our successful collaboration with Ducati, also in the AMA championship," declared Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's head of motorcycle competition, "With its different circuits and conditions, the AMA Superbike championship will offer a major technical challenge for us and we are happy to face up to it with our long-term partner Ducati."
With over three months to go before the start of the 2004 season, Bostrom will be seen in action on the Ducati 999 for the first time at Daytona tyre testing on 4-6 December, but already expectation is high over the combination of one of the USA's most talented riders and one of the world's most exciting superbike racing machines.
"This is the good news that we have been expecting for some time," Ducati North America CEO Michael Lock concluded, "Finally, Ducati will have the right package of rider, team and machinery to be able to put together a serious challenge for the AMA title. We are sure that Eric's talent and popularity will help Ducati achieve major visibility in the North American market."