World Supersport race winner Roberto Rolfo will return to the World Superbike Championship in 2018 after signing a deal with the Grillini Suzuki outfit.
Rolfo last contested a full season in WorldSBK in 2011 on a Kawasaki, and switched to WorldSSP in 2013 where he remained through to the middle of 2017.
Despite winning the opening round of the year at Phillip Island, Rolfo‘s form aboard the Vamag MV Agusta vanished over the following rounds and he was dropped after finishing a lowly 18th a Misano.
Rolfo made a one-off appearance on a Honda in France in WorldSSP before being drafted in as the injured Ayrton Badovini’s replacement at Grillini for the final in Qatar – in which he finished both races in the points in 13th and 15th.
This performance led team boss Andrea Grillini to seriously consider the Italian for 2018, while he felt his vast experience across grand prix, Superbike and Supersport made him a perfect fit to help the team develop the Suzuki the team will switch to for next year.
“I have known Roberto for a long time, but in Qatar we immediately found a great feeling and we started talking about a possible agreement for 2018,” said Grillini.
“He found the new project with Suzuki interesting and like me, he thinks that we can do well.
“I need a serious person with experience to develop a bike, that at the moment is not present in WorldSBK and to me he perfectly embodies this figure.
“I’m really happy to have come to an agreement with him.”
Rolfo has expressed his excitement at riding a new bike in the Suzuki GSX-R1000, and hopes to hit the ground running next year after a positive weekend in Qatar with the team.
“I am very happy to be back in WorldSBK,” the Italian beamed.
“I am very motivated to race on a Suzuki, a bike that I have always followed but I have never had the chance to try.
“After Qatar’s positive experience, I thank Andrea Grillini for this opportunity.
“During the last race of the 2017 season, I was feeling very positive with a desire to do well, and that is very important to me – so I can satrt the next season in the best way.
“I can’t wait to get on the bike and find the right chemistry with the team.”
The identity of Rolfo‘s team-mate remains unknown at present, though Ondrej Jezek will not be staying with the squad after agreeing a switch to the Guandalini Yamaha team for 2018.