Spanish star Hector Barbera will join the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing WorldSSP team for the remainder of the 2018 season as a replacement for the recently retired five-time World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu.

Barbera will join the team on track for the first time at Imola at the end of the month and will race for WorldSSP points the first time at the ninth round of the championship at Portimao in Portugal.

Barbera is a name that needs no introduction in global racing of any kind, as Hector has raced in the MotoGP paddock since 2002, starting in the 125cc GP class. In that same season he won his domestic CEV 125 Championship. Winning his first 125 GPs in 2003, he would win six races in all and finish runner-up in 2004.

In 250GPs in 2005 four career wins – and a vice-champion position in 2009 – led to a promotion to the MotoGP class in 2010. He came close to scoring a podium in the biggest class of all and qualified on the front row at the Sachsenring as recently as 2016.

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Earlier this year, Hector had competed in Moto2 for the first time, and now he makes a new step into the future with the most successful manufacturer and team in recent WorldSSP history.

Hector Barbera, stated: “I am really motivated and eager to get out on track again and I am lucky to be able to count on the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team. I was able to visit their headquarters and I saw with my eyes how the team is well organised and I know they are a winning team. Manuel is giving me a huge opportunity and I would like to pay him back with good results. I want to win and I am training hard for this. I am happy. Both the team and I are in the same condition. We are really experienced and we have all the potential to do well. I would like to thank Manuel and Kawasaki for having put me in a situation to find my confidence again at a such an important moment for me.”

Manuel Puccetti, Team Principal, stated: “Our agreement with Sheridan Morais was only scheduled to last until the Rimini Round and we are all very grateful for his help. I searched for a replacement rider and was delighted that Hector Barbera was available and interested in joining the team. It is an honour for me to have such an experienced rider in the team. Hector comes from a higher level after riding for 15 consecutive seasons in the FIM Road Racing World Championship; eight of them in the MotoGP class. I believe the team will work hard to give him all he needs to make good results in his new adventure in WorldSSP. It will not be easy since he will have to begin his experience on board the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R on three new race tracks for him – Portimao, Magny Cours and El Villicum – but I am sure he has all the potential to do well. If the results match our expectation we would really like to confirm him also for the next season.”

Hector Barbera Career Highlights

2001: CEV 125 – 12th
2002: CEV 125 – champion
125GP – 14th
2003: 125GP – 3rd
2004: 125GP – 2nd
2005: 250GP – 9th
2006: 250GP – 7th
2007: 250GP – 5th
2008: 250GP – 6th
2009: 250GP – 2nd
2010: MotoGP – 12th
2011: MotoGP – 11th
2012: MotoGP – 11th
2013: MotoGP – 16th
2014: MotoGP – 18th
2015: MotoGP – 15th
2016: MotoGP – 10th
2017: MotoGP – 22nd
2018: Moto2 – six races