Ex-Rossi crewman Stephens joins Desmosport Ducati in ASBK

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Stephens with rider Mike Jones
Stephens with rider Mike Jones Picture: Russell Colvin

DesmoSport Ducati have officially confirmed that New Zealander, Brent Stephens will join their Gold Coast based team for the upcoming 2021 Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) as Mike Jones’ race mechanic.

Stephens brings a wealth of knowledge to the team, having spent three years in the FIM WorldSBK Championship (95-97) working with fellow countryman, Simon Crafar, before joining the factory Yamaha team from 1999 to 2003 working with Carlos Checa. Then for 17 seasons he worked as Valentino Rossi’s race mechanic.

However, with the nine times World Champion heading to Petronas SRT for 2021, Stephens (and Australian Alex Briggs) were not brought across with Rossi’s move.

DesmoSport Ducati’s Team Co-Owner, Ben Henry explained that with the team growing to two riders, with Jones and Oli Bayliss, he really needed more help in the garage, and in particular, he needed to spend more time overseeing both bikes, riders and the team in general.

“Troy [Bayliss] and I had a chat about what options we had, and quickly realised that with Rossi heading to Petronas, Brent, who also lives not far from the workshop, didn’t have a confirmed position for the year and the rest is history,” said Henry.

“He worked with us on Mike’s Ducati Panigale V4R in our first test of the season at Phillip Island this week on Monday and Tuesday, and I think it’s fair to say that I’m extremely happy with how the team is coming together for 2021,” he added.

Stephens, who is more than excited to join DesmoSport Ducati in what will be their sixth season in the Australian Superbike Championship and is also excited to work with Jones.

“I’ve enjoyed a great career on the world stage, working with some of the world’s best riders, the most incredible bikes, and some great teams over the years. However, I have to admit, I’m looking forward to having a team located a few kilometres from my house,” said the 55-year-old.

Stephens explained that he enjoys the challenges that racing brings and moving from a MotoGP bike to an ASBK-spec superbike is extremely different but no less of a challenge.

“I’ve had a two-day test to get to know Mike and the Panigale V4R, and I can’t wait to get some more time with the bike as the season begins,” finished Stephens.

For Jones, who is gunning for his third Australian Superbike Championship in 2021 admitted that having Stephens onboard is a great move on behalf of the team, as he brings so much experience to the squad.

“Already at the test, we’ve seen things step up behind the scenes,” said Jones, who has 11 wins from 46 race starts in Australian Superbike class.

Jones, who chose the number 46 because he is a Rossi fan, now has one of his long-term mechanics working on his bike, which just adds to his confidence heading into the 2021 season.

“We tested well at Phillip Island earlier this week and I’m looking forward to getting back here in a few weeks’ time for round one,” concluded Jones.

Round one of the Australian Superbike Championship takes place on 18-21 February at the 4.445km Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.