Michael van der Mark will be moving up to the World Superbike class for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The move had been widely expected, after the 22-year-old Dutchman had shown a very strong progression in his second World Supersport season, culminating in clinching the title with a thrilling at the last round in Jerez.
Van der Mark is to stay with the Ten Kate team, who recognized his talent early and supported him throughout his European Superstock 600 and World Supersport career, putting him on the CBR1000RR in the Pata Honda WSBK squad. Though Van der Mark will be staying with the team, his contract is now directly with Honda, rather than with Ten Kate. The deal with Honda is a three-year one, with Van der Mark aiming to make the move to MotoGP after two seasons in World Superbikes with Pata Honda.
The Dutchman will be taking the place of the departing Jonathan Rea in the Pata Honda team. Though Rea had come close to signing a deal in the MotoGP paddock, where he had several offers, the 27-year-old is to make the switch to the Kawasaki team, where he will attempt to dethrone his new teammate and World Superbike champion Tom Sykes. The second slot in the Pata Honda team will be taken by Sylvain Guintoli.
Below is the press release issued by the Pata Honda team:
Two years of World Superbike for van der Mark and Honda
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Pirelli is to remain the official tire supplier for the World Superbike championship until at least the end of the 2018 season. The Italian brand has held the contract to supply tires to WSBK since the introduction of control tires back in 2004, and their continued involvement was widely expected. The World Superbike championship, under both Dorna and their predecessors Infront Motor Sports and FG Sport, have been very happy with the job done so far by Pirelli, and there was little reason to change.
Pirelli won the tire contract after a short tender process, but it is not believed that Pirelli had any serious competition for the role. Bridgestone has only just withdrawn from MotoGP, and is considering its involvement in motorsports; Michelin has just taken over the MotoGP contract from Bridgestone, and has its hands full; and Dunlop is focused on its role in Moto2 and Moto3, and showed little interest in expanding into World Superbikes.
The official press release appears below:
Pirelli Official Tyre Supplier for the eni FIM Superbike World Championship for the 2016-2018 seasons
Team orders, an unpopular aspect of team racing, usually come into play at this point of a title chase, with Eugene Laverty gifting Max Biaggi points to win the 2012 championship being the most blatant example of recent years.
After wrapping up the 2014 World Supersport title at Jerez, the Pata Honda team issued the following press release, containing a profile of Michael van der Mark, and charting his rise to become the first Dutch solo roadracing champion since Henk van Kessel in 1974:
A profile of Michael van der Mark, 2014 World Supersport champion
On 7 October 2012, Michael van der Mark won that year's Superstock 600 UEM European championship in only his second season on the Ten Kate Honda Junior Team’s Honda CBR600RR.
It was an especially impressive and outstandingly mature performance from the then 19-year-old from Gouda near Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Needing only to finish ahead of his nearest rival, van der Mark rode an incredibly mature race for one so young in a ‘winner-takes-all’ final race at Magny-Cours in France in the face of some less-than-subtle intimidation.
Just seven years earlier, the Dutch flyer’s entry into motorcycle racing had been relatively late at the age of 12. Having been entered into the Dutch Junior Cup on an Aprilia RS125, he was taken to quiet industrial estate by his father, Henk, to try out the bike.
This was just a week before his first race, and he had never ridden a motorcycle before.
Press releases from the series organizer and the World Supersport and World Superbike teams after Sunday's thrilling races at Jerez:
The World Supersport race was a fight for a potential title over nineteen laps with the fastest non-contender relegated to a pit lane start.
Press releases from the series organizer and the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after qualifying at Jerez:
The rulebook was brought out for an engine too many in World Supersport and a qualifying record was broken by the entire front row in World Superbike.
A team that uses more than the allocated number of engines during the Championship will receive a penalty as per rule 1.21.20 below.
Michael van der Mark continues his campaign for his first world title with the fastest time of the weekend ahead of PJ Jacobsen and Kenan Sofuoglu. Van der Mark's time today is still not as quick as his morning's time from yesterday, but it was still the second-best qualifying time of the weekend.
After seven weeks of absence, World Superbike is back. In the interim period, we've lost one team, one factory and one round, and the silly season rumour mill has started back up.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams and the series organizers after the first day of practice at Jerez:
Michael van der Mark set the quickest time in a warmer, slower session, with the morning times not being beaten by the top riders as the temperature hit 30°C.
Michael van der Mark opened the weekend with the quickest time, half a second ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu in his new team and Kev Coghlan.