Queenslander will join high profile STK1000 junior team.
Last year’s Australian Superbike champion Mike Jones will head back to Europe for 2017 after signing a prized contract with the Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team to ride a Ducati in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup series.
Jones, 22, had a stellar first year with Ducati in the ASBK this season riding for DesmoSport Ducati, finishing fifth in the championship. He also scored points in World Superbike and MotoGP guest appearances.
Filling in for Hector Barbera at Avintia Racing Ducati during the Japanese and Australian rounds of MotoGP firmly placed Jones on the radar internationally, now confirmed to be moving overseas with the official development squad alongside Michael Ruben Rinaldi.
“I’m very excited at the prospect of racing in the European Superstock 1000 championship and join the Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team,” Jones said. “For me, it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to compete with an extremely professional team on a bike as competitive as the Ducati Panigale R, with which I already have some good experience.
“I want to make the most of this opportunity to improve my current skills while racing against strong competitors and learning new circuits. I’m looking forward to this challenge and I’ll be giving my best to achieve strong results.”
Feel Racing owner Daniele Casolari commented: “We have started this adventure with great enthusiasm, getting really close to our goal of a title in our debut season, but we’re not satisfied yet. On the contrary, we decided to renew our challenge to finish the job with two young, talented riders.
“Mike has been with Ducati for a while now and he really impressed me this year, showing great speed and adaptability in very different championships. Michael matured progressively in 2016, and we’re confident he can find the consistency worthy of his talent, which has never been in question. For both, the goal is to win races and aim at the title.”
Jones’ opportunity comes via a strong relationship with Ducati’s triple WorldSBK champion and MotoGP race winner Troy Bayliss, who his co-owner of DesmoSport Ducati with Ben Henry. It’s uncertain who will replace Jones in the ASBK.
Next year will mark Jones’ return to Europe, previously contesting much of the 2013 Superstock 600 Cup as a teenager with Agro-On Racedays Honda before parting ways due to difficulties with the team.