James Ellison is set to make his MotoGP return after a five-year absence in 2012 after signing for Paul Bird's new claiming rules team. It has not been decided what chassis the 31-year-old Briton will race, but it will be powered by an Aprilia RSV-4 engine.
Although the deal has yet to be officially confirmed, Ellison posted on Twitter: "Well, the cat's out of the bag now. Sorry to those I couldn't tell before, it was hard not to shout it from the top of a roof. I'm so excited."
Ellison won back-to-back European Superstock titles in 2000-2001, aiding his ascent to MotoGP with the Harris WCM team in '04. In total, he has started 38 premier class grands prix, and last raced in the series with the Tech 3 Yamaha team in '06. Since then he has been a frontrunner in Superbike championships in the U.S. and Britain, and was a podium finisher in World Supersport this year.
Bird, by contrast, has never competed in MotoGP, although his squad has run Kawasaki's works World Superbike entries for the past two years.