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There will be a stellar cast of five Australian riders, four of whom will be on Kawasaki Ninja’s at this month’s Australian round of the 2011 Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island on Feb 25-27, with confirmation today that Gosford rider Mark Aitchison has been contracted to race the season with the Italian based, Team Pedercini Kawasaki.

Aitchison, 27, will join fellow Australian and Kawasaki rider Chris Vermeulen as championship regulars in 2011; while the reigning Australian Superbike champion, Bryan Staring (Team Pedercini Kawasaki Superstock rider) has accepted a one-off wild card ride to race the Ninja ZX-10R at the island for the season opener.

After finishing second in the 2006 Australian Supersport Championship, the tertiary qualified Aitchison began his international career a year later when he was fifth in the FIM 1000cc Superstock Cup. In 2008, he competed in the Supersport World Championship, and he remained in that title the following year when he was eight overall, with a number of top five finishes to his credit.

He competed in some season-ending Supersport races in 2010, before beginning negotiations to make the switch to world Superbike.

"To say I am excited now about my season ahead is a major understatement,” said Aitchison.

“To race in the world Superbike class has always been a dream of mine and to be given this opportunity with a team that has such long history in world Superbike racing is something I am very proud of.

“I look forward to repaying their faith in me by giving all my motivation and dedication toward this project. In Phillip Island I'll be riding and racing the bike for the first time, so even though it will not be easy, I understand that this is a long season.

“I'm extremely looking forward to this new challenge, and I'm especially looking forward to getting back onto the Phillip Island circuit, which I love to race on.”

Aitchison will have his first ride on the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R in the second and final official pre-season test at Phillip Island on February 21-22, before all the world Superbike and Supersport teams regroup for the opening round of the championship back at the spectacular seaside circuit on February 25.

Chris Vermeulen and Bryan Staring will both be at the final hitout, as well as Newcastle rider Broc Parkes (Kawasaki) who will be Australia’s sole world Supersport campaigner in 2011.

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