DesmoSport team confirms former champion’s full-time return.
Former champion Mike jones will replace three-time superbike world champion Troy Bayliss at DesmoSport Ducati for the remainder of the 2019 Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK).
Following Bayliss’ injuries sustained at Phillip Island’s opener, the factory Ducati squad drafted in Jones for last weekend’s second stop at Wakefield Park, earning a race podium before winding up fourth overall.
Jones, a former DesmoSport Ducati rider in 2016, currently sits third in the standings, and contested the first two rounds solely to remain sharp as he awaited a full-time deal to present itself either overseas or domestically.
“Three weeks ago when Ben asked if I could help set up Troy’s bike during testing while he was injured, which led to me racing for the team at round two,” Jones explained. “At the airport on Monday while travelling home from the event, Ben and Troy offered me to race the rest of the season for them.
“Although I was planning to compete in the Spanish Superbike Championship this season, I’m very excited about this last-minute opportunity to be on-board with DesmoSport Ducati against one of the toughest fields of superbike racers in years.
“The team is the strongest it’s ever been, and the bike is significantly different to the Ducatis I raced in 2016 and 2017, which gives me the strong belief we can win races, and challenge for the championship. I’m highly-motivated and really looking forward to putting in the maximum effort with the team to achieve these goals.”
DesmoSport Ducati co-owner Ben Henry added: “In some ways it was difficult, and in others, it was a very simple decision to make for Troy and me. We race at the highest level, and it’s our aim to win the 2019 Australian Superbike Championship.
“With Troy missing two rounds against so many racers capable of winning, our best chance to achieve our goal is to continue working with Mike.
“The work he did with us in testing and at round two made the bike even better to ride, and so, after some long conversations, Mike has been offered Troy’s race bike for the rest of the season. Troy, once he’s able to ride again, will now focus on setting up the V4 R with us, while Mike gives the ASBK championship his full attention.”
Jones has starred in multiple MotoGP guest appearances since his last full-time ASBK campaign in 2016, racing the Superstock 1000 European Championship in 2017 before transitioning to the STK1000 category in the Spanish Speed Championship last year.
Round three of the ASBK is scheduled to take place at The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia on 26-28 April.