Carl Fogarty has signed emerging talent Craig Jones for his Foggy PETRONAS Racing team's World Superbike campaign in 2006.
The promising 20-year-old from Northwich, Great Britain, will ride the PETRONAS FP1 alongside the experienced Steve Martin, who will miss the team's first test in Valencia next month after surgery on a kidney damaged in a spectacular pile-up in the final race of last season.
Craig was runner-up in the British Supersport championship this year and also impressed during stand-in World Supersport appearances this year.
Carl said: "I wanted to put someone on the bike that is hungry and willing to learn. Craig wants to prove that he can be one of the best riders in the world and I believe he is one of the most talented riders around. Maybe I can see someone who wants to win as badly as I did.
"He will be in a high-profile team, on a Superbike and on slick tyres as well as at new circuits, so he is being thrown in at the deep end to some extent. But I will be there and the whole team will be there to help him float. He is not expected to win on our bike, so that shifts the pressure from him to me - and I don't mind that. I had to work for my big chance and it will give me so much pleasure to see someone fulfill their potential with my team.
"He first caught my eye last year when, despite being on a bike that was slower than the others, he managed to win at Donington. It was one of the most impressive performances I have seen for a long time and I think his sideways over-taking manouevre was the most spectacular I have ever seen. He also comes highly recommended from a lot of people whose opinions I respect.
"I considered him last year but thought that it would benefit him to have another year in the British Supersport championship. He has had a good year and, but for a couple of mistakes, could have won that title. Craig had good offers on the table for 2006, having impressed with a few rides in the World Supersport championship last season. But he wanted to come and ride for my team and that is very important for me."
Craig said: "I'm delighted and can't wait for this new challenge. The main attraction has to be Carl, who was one of my heroes when I started racing, and someone I aspired to emulate. I also rode for Jack Valentine, the FPR race team boss, for two years and know that it is a well-run team. I am excited about getting onto a superbike for the first time and am also keen to help with the project development. I know quite a few of the circuits and we are planning tests at some of the others so I don't think that will be too much of a disadvantage. And I rode at Brno this year for the first time on a new bike and was sixth. It might be difficult to get my lap times down straight away but I do not think it will be too difficult and I am fit and ready to go."
Craig replaces Garry McCoy in the FPR team. Carl added: "I wish Garry all the best as things didn't work out well for him with our team last year."