Brendan Roberts to ride a Guandalini Ducati in 2009 World Superbike Championship

Adelaide’s motorcycle racing star Brendan Roberts will compete in the 2009 Superbike World Championship on a Ducati.

Roberts has joined the Bologna-based Guandalini Racing, which is one of the leading privateer teams in the championship.

“The deal all came through at the last minute, and I actually concluded negotiations when I was driving across the Nullarbor on the way home from Perth a few weeks ago,” said Roberts. “Everything is now in place, and I can’t wait to start testing in late January.”

Roberts will ride a ‘customer’ Ducati 1098RS, which will be the same specification machine as the one that took Troy Bayliss to his third world Superbike title in 2008.

Roberts is under no illusions that his rookie year in world Superbike will be a tough one.

“There will be 14 factory bikes on the grid in 2009, so the competition is going to be tough,” said Roberts. “Actually, I started to get myself a bit worked up about it all the other day, but I am now a lot more focussed about what I have to do – finish races for one thing.

“Realistically, I have to be in the top 15 next year, and top 10 is eventually where I want to be.”

Roberts will join fellow Australians Troy Corser (BMW), Broc Parkes (Kawasaki) and Karl Muggeridge in the 2009 title, which kicks off at Victoria’s Phillip Island circuit from February 27 until March 1.

Other big-name riders in the championship will include former MotoGP riders Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa, Shinya Nakano and Ruben Xaus, as well as American rising star Ben Spies and Japanese hard-charger Noriyuki Haga.

Roberts became this year’s Superstock World Cup champion in the most remarkable circumstances.

Fourth in the standings after the penultimate round, Roberts (Ducati) won the final race in Portugal from countryman Chris Seaton (Suzuki), which was enough to see him vault three spots up the ladder as his main title rivals failed to deliver the goods on a wet track.

The 23-year-old first came to prominence in 2004 when he won the Australian Superstock title. He then ventured to England and won the 2006 Superstock title, which piqued the interest of Ducati.

Roberts is now relaxing at home in Adelaide before he heads back overseas in early January, but he took some time out to compete in the recent Australian Historic Road Race Championship in WA, finishing third in the Period 3 (1946-1962) Senior (500cc) class on a 1961 Matchless G50 – a world away from the Ducati he raced this year with its skinny treaded tyres, one cylinder instead of two, and the gear-change lever and rear brake on opposite sides to normal.