Sep 20, 2002
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<BR>Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Although Anthony Gobert has been confirmed as a new member of the Austin/Bleu Bayou Ducati AMA Superbike team, Ducati Corse officials have not finalized the company's 2003 deals with Austin Bleu Bayou and HMC Ducati.<BR><BR>Reached at his office in Texas Friday, Austin Bleu Bayou Ducati owner Terry Gregoricka confirmed that he has signed Gobert directly to his team for the 2003 season. "We've always had interest in Anthony. So we just tried to go after him," said Gregoricka of the Gobert deal.<BR><BR>His team's ability to sign Gobert, said Gregoricka, was a result of increased support from Ducati Corse versus last season. "Yeah, they're involved with us," said Gregoricka. "Quite a bit of support compared to last year."<BR><BR>Gregoricka, however, won't have all of his team's details, such as which brand of tire it will use, set for at least another week. But he did say that Lance Baker will return in his role as Team Manager/Crew Chief of Austin/Bleu Bayou Ducati.<BR><BR>Gregoricka also said he was uncertain which specification Ducati Superbikes, 998 or 999, the team will be racing.<BR><BR>But in an e-mail received today, Ducati Corse Commercial Manager and Superbike Program Director Paolo Ciabatti told Roadracingworld.com that Gobert would ride 2003-model 998RS Superbikes supplied by Ducati Corse. By Ducati Corse tradition, that translates to Gobert riding one of 20 customer bikes hand-built to 2002 factory-bike specs.<BR><BR>Ciabatti called Austin Bleu Bayou Ducati a "factory-supported" team, and wrote, "Naturally, we will work very closely to Terry, Anthony and their team in order to make this effort very successful."<BR><BR>HMC Ducati team owner Mitch Hansen could not be reached at post time because he is currently in Italy negotiating his deal with Ducati Corse. Hansen has stated that Doug Chandler is his number one choice for a rider, adding that he would like to expand to a two-rider team for 2003.<BR><BR>More details about both Austin Bleu Bayou Ducati's and HMC Ducati's deals with Ducati Corse are expected to be announced during or after the final World Superbike Championship round at Imola, September 27-29.<BR><BR>