Alex Lowes

Michael van der Mark Confirmed at Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Squad for 2017

In the latest round of poorly-kept secrets emerging at last, Yamaha have announced that they have signed Michael van der Mark for the 2017 season. He will join Alex Lowes in the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK squad for next year, replacing Sylvain Guintoli.

The move had been long expected. It became clear over the summer that Van der Mark would be leaving the Ten Kate Honda team, with whom he has had a long relationship. Once the signing of Stefan Bradl alongside Nicky Hayden at Honda was announced, there was only one destination Van der Mark could be heading.

Part of Van der Mark's motivation for moving has to do with MotoGP. The Dutchman is known to be keen to move to the Grand Prix paddock, but could not find a competitive package, or a deal with hopes of progressing towards a factory team. A switch to Yamaha may smooth his path in the future, though with the Tech 3 team having signed two rookies for 2017 and 2018, that route could also be more difficult.

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Alex Lowes to Replace Bradley Smith for Silverstone and Misano

A week after getting his first taste of a MotoGP bike, Alex Lowes has learned he will spend two full weekends on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha machine, replacing Bradley Smith. 

Smith injured himself when he crashed heavily during practice for the final round of the FIM Endurance World Championship. The Englishman had been drafted in to boister the YART Yamaha team, in response to a request by friend and former World Supersport racer Broc Parkes.

The aim was to help YART win the FIM EWC title, but Smith's assistance ended before the race had even begun. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider collided with another rider, suffering a very deep cut to his leg and damage to his knee. Fears of a broken femur proved unfounded, fortunately.

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World Superbike Silly Season Update: Melandri's Back, Bradl Switches, Aprilia Arrives

While the MotoGP grid is as good as settled, Silly Season for World Superbikes is in full swing. With the Kawasaki riders' contracts settled before the summer break, attention has turned to the other seats, most of which are up in the air. In addition, there could be some changes in machinery, with some teams eyeing a switch of manufacturers.

The biggest news – still unofficial, but widely believed to be a done deal – is that Marco Melandri is set to make a return to the World Superbike paddock, this time in the factory Aruba.it Ducati team alongside Chaz Davies.

Melandri has been angling for a ride ever since his departure from the factory Aprilia MotoGP squad, a move he had never wanted to make in the first place. Over the past twelve months or so, he has been linked to rides with Yamaha, Aprilia, BMW and Kawasaki in World Superbikes, and – possibly the most bizarrely inaccurate rumor to be published in a while – to a ride with BMW in MotoGP. (The fact that BMW have no intention of racing in MotoGP, and the break up with Melandri in 2013 so acrimonious that they would not have him back anyway is what made that particular rumor so entertaining.)

Melandri's return to the fold

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World Superbikes: Reviewing Thailand - Can Kawasaki Be Caught?

Good clean racing or overstepping the mark? That was the question being asked on Sunday night in Thailand after a thrilling race long duel between Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea.

For many the sight of Sykes fighting tooth and nail and refusing to cede the win to his teammate was something that was hoped for but not expected this year. The Kawasaki teammates fought a war of words over the winter but after Rea's dominant title victory last year, many expected something similar this year.

While Rea has walked away with 95 points from the first four races, the message from Sykes in Thailand was clear: You're not going to have it all your own way this time around!

Having split the honors at the Chang International Circuit both will feel positive about their Far-East jaunt but the happier of the two will be Sykes. The Englishman laid down a marker on Sunday and his robust defense of the lead on the last lap was a clear statement of intent. Swerving across the track on the short straight to the last corner he made clear to Rea that there was no room for a move and that he would have to settle for second.

The move was criticized by some as being too aggressive, particularly against your teammate, but in the eyes of Race Direction and the majority of onlookers it was simply a strong defense with everything on the line.

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2016 Phillip Island World Superbike Notes: Has WSBK Turned a Corner?

We are racing at last. The first round of World Superbikes at Phillip Island means we can all breathe a sigh of relief. The long, dark winter is over, and motorcycles are circulating in earnest once again.

What to make of the first weekend of World Superbikes in the new format? Those who worried that spreading the racing over two days would hurt attendance and ruin the series have not seen their fears realized. Attendance at Phillip Island was around 75% of the MotoGP attendance there, really strong figures for the track.

Some caveats apply, of course: firstly, the Phillip Island MotoGP round is one of the most poorly attended on the calendar, though last year numbers improved. Secondly, the combination of Australian Superbikes with World Superbikes meant there was a full program of racing, and plenty for fans to see. The real test of the new format will come at tracks like Donington and Jerez, where attendance has been dismal. If they can get more people through the gate there, the Saturday-Sunday format will be more of a success.

Slick pics

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