At Misano, in one week's time, we'll see Niccolò Canepa return to the track, riding the Pata team's factory Yamaha R1.
The Italian, a full-time entry in the World Endurance series, took part in the British round at Donington Park as a wildcard, but was unable to reach the points zone, proving just how tough it is to keep pace after a prolonged absence.
Canepa, Superstock champion with Ducati in 2007 and winner of the prestigious Bol D'Or in 2017 , boasts significant experience that can be useful when it comes to developing a race bike, having ridden the Desmosedici GP and various Moto2 bikes; in the production-derived series, #59 - seen here in action at Donington - has competed with Ducati, EBR, Yamaha and Kawasaki.
Niccolò has very good knowledge of the Misano track, having raced there in almost every category over the years; his R1-M will be directly supported by the Pata outfit, the Italian flanking Michael Van Der Mark and Alex Lowes.
As for 2019, the Iwata manufacturer wants to increase its investment and commitment in the Superbike arena: important negotiations with teams and riders are underway, among which Mirko Giansanti's GMT team, Supersport champions with Frenchman Lucas Mahias. German rider Sandro Cortese is interested in making the move up, if there is a factory bike available for him that is.