The Avintia Ducati MotoGP team has confirmed Xavier Simeon as its second rider for next season, completing a 24-strong grid in the premier class for 2018.
Simeon, a full-timer in Moto2 since 2011, has been linked to a step up to the premier class for some weeks, and is believed to bring a considerable amount of financial backing from his Belgian homeland to the table.
The 28-year-old joins Tito Rabat in Avintia’s 2018 line-up on a two-year deal, leaving the team’s incumbent riders, Hector Barbera and Loris Baz, out in the cold.
"It’s a fantastic opportunity and I’ve been working hard to get it for many years," commented Simeon. I’m so happy to make this dream a reality; a dream I’ve been pursuing since I was a child.
"I won my Superstock title with Ducati and I’m very happy to be back with the marque at Avintia Racing. Once more I’d like to thank my sponsors and my fans for having believed in me and for all their support they’re giving me in this new challenge.”
Simeon has a single Moto2 win to his credit from 124 starts, which came at the Sachsenring in 2015, and a best championship placing of seventh, achieved in the same year.
He lies 21st in the current standings amid a difficult year aboard Tasca Racing’s sole Kalex entry, with only one top-10 finish to his name.
Avintia boss Raul Romero said: “I’m very happy to announce the arrival of Xavi Simeon to our team. He’s a hard working rider and has won in Moto2 – a very tough category with stiff competition.
"After some seasons in the intermediate class, he will arrive in MotoGP very motivated and wanting to learn. I think he will make a very good pairing with Tito Rabat who, in his third year in the premier calss, will be the point of reference within the team."
While Barbera will move down to Moto2 next season with the Pons team, his teammate Baz faces an uncertain future.
The Frenchman told Motorsport.com in Misano that he would seek to return to World Superbikes, where he raced in 2012-14, should he lose his seat at Avintia.
Simeon's arrival at Avintia completes the 2018 MotoGP grid, with the Belgian joining fellow Moto2 racers Franco Morbidelli, Thomas Luthi and Takaaki Nakagami in the 2018 rookie class.
2018 MotoGP rider line-up:
|Marc VDS Honda||
|Tech 3 Yamaha||