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The Cat Is Out Of The Bag: Petronas SIC Yamaha MotoGP Team To Be Presented At Silverstone

It is hard to keep secrets in the MotoGP paddock (though not impossible, as Jorge Lorenzo's move to Repsol Honda conclusively proves). One of the worst kept secrets has been the news that the Sepang International Circuit, or SIC, is to expand its current operation to include a MotoGP team. Over the months since rumors first started circulating that Sepang was interested in running a MotoGP team, details have slowly dripped out, until we now have an almost complete picture. The whole picture is to be formally announced at Silverstone, at a press conference at 6pm BST on Friday.

Here's what we already know: the team is to be an extension of the current Petronas Sprinta Racing team, which currently runs Adam Norrodin and Ayumi Sasaki in Moto3, and Niki Tuuli in Moto2. The Petronas SIC Yamaha team, as it will almost certainly be called, will be the showcase team for the Petronas-backed structure run by the Sepang International Circuit. The objective is to have two riders in each of the three Grand Prix classes, from Moto3 to MotoGP, as well as a team in the FIM CEV Junior World Moto3 Championship. 

Current Petronas Sprinta team manager Johan Stigefelt will continue to oversee the full team in all three classes, though management of the MotoGP team will be delegated to Wilco Zeelenberg, currently rider analyst for Maverick Viñales in the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. Zeelenberg will be too busy managing the Petronas SIC Yamaha team to take on the role of rider coach for the Petronas team, so an existing rider coach is to be appointed to the team to assist the riders. 

Though it is yet to be announced, the rider line up for the Petronas SIC Yamaha team was finalized at Assen, with Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo riding the bikes. Petronas has the budget to obtain much better material from Yamaha than Tech3 ever did, with Morbidelli set to line up on a near-factory M1, while Quartararo will likely be riding something more similar to a satellite machine. Ramon Forcada, currently crew chief to Maverick Viñales, will join the Petronas SIC Yamaha team to work as crew chief to Franco Morbidelli. The crew for the Petronas SIC Yamaha team will be made up of a large part of the current Marc VDS MotoGP squad, as that team are leaving the MotoGP grid in 2019.

The importance of the team is emphasized by the role call of Malaysian representatives present at the Silverstone press conference. SIC CEO Razlan Razali will of course be there, as the driving force behind the team, as well SIC Chairman Azman Yahya. Wan Zulkiflee, CEO of Petronas, the state-owned Malaysian oil company, will also be present, along with the Malaysian minister of youth and sports, Syed Saddiq. The goal of the team structure is to promote primarily Malaysian, but in the second instance, Asian talent along a pathway from the FIM CEV to MotoGP, but it is also important for the team to be successful at as many levels as possible. The reason for Petronas to back the team so heavily is for the promotional value of being involved in Grand Prix motorcycle racing, and that value is best served by winning.

The goal of winning races is why the rider line up took so long to assemble. Initially, Petronas and SIC had wanted an existing top rider, spending a lot of time courting first Jorge Lorenzo, and then Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo chose the security of a factory team, while Pedrosa decided he no longer had the passion to keep the intensity needed to be successful in MotoGP. Franco Morbidelli was already destined for the Petronas SIC team, as a protegé of the VR46 Riders Academy, and so it was a logical step to put him in the lead role. The team took a gamble on the youth and potential of Fabio Quartararo over existing and proven riders such as Alvaro Bautista. 

Though there are few concrete details left for the Malaysian protagonists to reveal at the Silverstone press conference, it will still be eagerly awaited. Above all, it will give an insight into the reasoning behind this team, and demonstrate the seriousness of the commitment to the program. If the wilder rumors circulating in the paddock are true, this could be the future of the factory Yamaha team.

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Tony Goldsmith Photos: The Gold Standard Shoots Brno, Part 2


Andrea Dovizioso was unbeatable at Brno. Just


Maverick Viñales blocks out the world. He needed to


Marc Marquez defended his comfortable lead at Brno, and made it even more comfortable


Stefan Bradl was back with a wildcard and a gorgeous livery


Brain food: feeding new maps into Cal Crutchlow's LCR Honda


Jorge Lorenzo ponders his Ducati


New fairing, front profile


Friction in the garage, harmony on the bike: Maverick Viñales


Same old same old for Valentino Rossi: the best chassis ruined by poor tire management


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The 2019 MotoGP Calendar: Will Mexico Really Be The 20th MotoGP Round?

The announcement of the MotoGP test dates in the middle of last week have given a hint of how the 2019 MotoGP calendar is to take shape. The official announcement is not expected for another month or so – Dorna are still waiting for the F1 calendar to be published, to try to avoid direct clashes with the premier car racing series. The F1 calendar will not have the same influence as it had in previous years, however: since new owners Liberty took over the series, they have moved the start time of F1 races to 3:10pm Central European Time, some 10 minutes after MotoGP has finished the podium ceremony.

The MotoGP test schedule sees three official tests taking place over the winter, though one of them is before the official winter break. The MotoGP field will be at Jerez on the 28th and 29th November for the first official test. This basically converts the previous private test, which most teams attended, into an official one, forcing all of the teams to take the track together, and to an extent, improving the coverage of the test.

Testing continues after the winter break, the teams picking up at Sepang on the 6th-8th of February. Two weeks later, the MotoGP teams assemble once again for the final test before the season begins, at Qatar from the 23rd to the 25th February. Moto2 and Moto3 test at the same Losail Circuit a week later, and the first race of the 2019 MotoGP season will almost certainly take place on 10th March.

The Qatar race will retain roughly the same schedule as it did this year, with the MotoGP race at 7pm local time, roughly an hour after sunset. But the Moto3 and Moto2 races will probably be moved a little earlier: the last few laps of the Moto2 race saw the riders riding directly into the setting sun, causing visibility problems. The Qatar schedule is still subject to review, but should be decided quite soon.

20 races, or 19?

The 2019 calendar will feature 20 races, though it will be Mexico on the schedule as the 20th race, rather than Finland. The Kymiring circuit has still not completed construction, and they need another year to get ready for MotoGP. The Mexico race, scheduled to be held at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit near Mexico City, will take place two weeks after the Argentina round of MotoGP at Termas De Rio Hondo, and the week before the Austin race.

There might be 20 races on the calendar, but whether 20 races will actually be held is another question altogether. Watching footage from the F1 race held at the track, the circuit seems impossibly dangerous. Chicho Lorenzo, father of Jorge, said it was "suicide to race MotoGP there" in a recent tweet. Valentino Rossi's verdict was equally devastating.

"I’m quite desperate because first of all it becomes 20 races. It means we don’t have a life," Rossi complained. "Apart from this first problem, it’s a very bad track. I don’t like. It’s dangerous also. They have to modify some part of the track but it’s very difficult to modify like this, it’s not easy. For me a race next year is not a good idea, for sure."

Playing the long game

This move seems more like a gambit by Dorna to show goodwill towards the idea of a race in Mexico, despite the fact that the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit is a very long way from meeting MotoGP and FIM safety standards. Dorna will probably sign a contract and make an announcement, while emphasizing that the contract is subject to the circuit meeting safety requirements. The circuit is unlikely to manage that in the eight months between now and next April, and the actual race is likely to be canceled fairly early in the process.

This may look like a farcical development in the short term, but it is good for the sport in the long term. Dorna show willing to move into new and important markets, which is good for the manufacturers and for the sport in Mexico and other parts of Central America. It gets Mexican fans fired up, which is likely to push them to persuade the circuit and local authorities to make the circuit upgrades possible. It may even persuade a few more Mexican fans to cross the border to Austin, and see a race at the Circuit of the Americas.

We have seen similar developments in other countries as well. MotoGP is going to have a race in Indonesia at some point, but right now, there isn't a track which can host the series. Yet there have been all sorts of announcements about MotoGP going to Indonesia, despite the chances of it happening in the next two or three years being relatively slim. But it gets Indonesian fans excited, the fans put pressure on local, regional, and national governments, and eager Indonesians who can't wait head to Sepang and, in October, to Thailand to watch a race.

A race in Mexico, even a canceled race, will help to generate plenty of hype around the series. That will increase the chances of a race happening somewhere in Central America in the medium term, even if the scheduled round doesn't happen in the short term

Plus ça change

The basic schedule for the calendar is likely to remain very similar to the schedule in 2018. The sequence and timing of the races will remain broadly the same. One change which will be pushed through is to move the German GP a week earlier, to be back to back with the Dutch round at Assen. This would allow the riders to have a three-week break between Germany and Brno, instead of just the two weeks off between the races. That was one consistent complaint from the riders both at the Sachsenring, and at Brno this year.

It is still unknown where the German round of MotoGP will be held in 2019, but the chances that the series returns to the Sachsenring is high. The federal government of Saxony is working with the circuit to secure the necessary funds to organize the race, as it is a big money spinner for the region, generating a lot of economic activity in the surrounding area. But they have to reach an accommodation with the ADAC, the German equivalent of the AA (or AAA), who hold the rights to organize the race.

Finland, which has a contract to host MotoGP, will not be on the calendar, as explained. The Kymiring will now be on the calendar in 2020, and that will precipitate a bigger shake up of the schedule. Finland can only really host a race between mid-May and early September, which means the remainder of the calendar will have to be reorganized. It will also mean one of the existing Spanish rounds will be dropped, to keep the calendar at 20 races. Jerez and Valencia seem safe, with the ax likely to fall on either Barcelona or Aragon, with Barcelona the slight favorite.

2020, however, is still a long way away.

Below is the list of preseason tests ahead of 2019:

MotoGP

Valencia Test: 20th - 21st November
Jerez Test: 28th - 29th November
Sepang Shakedown: 1st - 3rd February
Sepang Test: 6th - 8th February
Qatar Test: 23rd - 25th February

Moto2/MotoE

Jerez Moto2/MotoE Test: 23rd - 25th November
Jerez Moto2/Moto3 Test: 20th - 22nd February
Qatar Moto2/Moto3 Test: 1st - 3rd March
Jerez MotoE Test: 12th - 14th March
MotoE April Test TBC


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Tony Goldsmith Photos: The Gold Standard Shoots Brno, Part 1


No closing the lid on Pandora's box. Ducati debuted a new aero package at Brno. Expect more updates next year.


Dark days for Maverick Viñales


The Doctor is still In, and will be for the foreseeable future. But they need to fix tire wear


Cal Crutchlow went a long way at Brno, but lost the two with five to go


Meet the New Improved Jorge Lorenzo, who has finally got his head around the Ducati


A lot of data left to analyze for Kouji Tsuya, Yamaha MotoGP project leader


It's amazing what you can do with a leaf blower, a 3D printer, and a little ingenuity


Johann Zarco was near his old self at Brno. His relationship with former manager Laurent Fellon has been mostly patched up


Even helmets get hot at Brno


Desmo Dovi is dangerous at Brno


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New KTM Engine Debuts At Brno, But Won't Be Raced

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. 

KTM's response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust. Reversing the crankshaft means that the stresses in the engine are very different, and require careful testing to ensure it will operate reliably.

At Brno, it was evident that Bradley Smith finally had the new engine at his disposal. The difference is visible, if you look very carefully, from the torque reaction and other clues. When Smith was asked whether he had the new engine, he refused to give a straight answer, telling reporters, "If you have any questions, [KTM MotoGP project leader] Sebastian Risse is the person to speak to." When we pointed out that we would see whether they had introduced the new engine once Dorna published the official engine usage lists, Smith replied, "I suppose you will."

Dorna has now published those lists, and it is obvious that Smith has indeed been given two new engines for use at Brno. Though the engine lists do not show the engine specification, only whether it is unused or not, it is unusual to introduce two new engines at the same time, unless they are a different spec. Riders need engines with the same specification during practice to allow them to work reliably on set up.

The bad news for KTM is that they are still having reliability problems. Smith suffered four different technical issues this weekend, forced to leave the bike at the side of the track a couple of times, and pulling into the pits earlier than expected on both Friday and Saturday. So KTM have decided to take the precaution of going back to the old engine for the race, with the forward rotating crankshaft. That engine is a known quantity, and should under normal circumstances last until the end of the race.

There was more bad news for KTM during the morning warm up on Sunday, however. Pol Espargaro crashed heavily just before Turn 3, and fractured his left collarbone in the crash. Espargaro will miss the race at Brno, but more importantly, he will also miss the official MotoGP test here on Monday. With Mika Kallio out for the long term with ligament damage in his knee picked up in the crash at the Sachsenring, the testing work will fall squarely on the shoulders of Bradley Smith.

It is still uncertain whether Espargaro will be fit in time for KTM's home race, the Austrian round of MotoGP at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

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MV Agusta Debuts 2019 Moto2 Machine

MV Agusta have released the first official photos and details of their Moto2 bike. The Italian manufacturer is partnering with the Forward Racing team, who will race the MV Agusta from 2019 onwards, once Triumph takes over as official engine supplier. The MV Agusta Moto2 machine brings to an end a 42 year absence from Grand Prix racing.

MV Agusta once dominated Grand Prix racing, winning 37 constructor titles and 38 individual titles across the 125, 250, 350, and 500cc classes. The Italian manufacturer was home to a string of legendary riders, including Carlo Ubbiali, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Gary Hocking, Phil Read, and the most successful motorcycle racer of all time, Giacomo Agostini.

The MV Agusta Moto2 project is to be developed in house, and will follow the lessons learned from racing in the WorldSBK and WorldSSP championships. The bike uses a tubular steel trellis chassis with aluminum side plates holding the swingar mount, just as MV Agusta's road bikes do. It has an aluminum swingarm, and uses industry-standard Ohlins suspension. The MV Agusta becomes the second bike to use a steel trellis frame in Moto2, after KTM have garnered much success with a similar frame. Both KTM and MV Agusta insist on sticking to their own manufacturing principles and engineering experience in their choice of chassis, rather than attempting to copy what other manufacturers do.

It is not yet known who will race the Forward MV Agusta in 2019. There are rumors that Forward are talking to Jonas Folger about a ride, giving the German a chance to make a return to Grand Prix racing without the pressure of coming back to MotoGP. But there is plenty of time to be signing riders: the silly season for Moto2 is likely to kick off once the series returns at Brno, with rider signings usually taking place in the second half of the season.

Part of the press release from MV Agusta and Forward Racing appears below photos from the press release:


The long-awaited return of MV agusta to GP Motorcycle racing

MV Agusta re-enters the World Championship after a 42 year absence.
This prestigious Italian motorcycle brand, which still retains the most titles worldwide, with an experienced racing Team.
MV Agusta & Forward Racing Team united to write a new chapter in the history of motorcycling.

STATEMENTS

GIOVANNI CASTIGLIONI - MV AGUSTA PRESIDENT
“I am really proud to see the dream to rejoin the Motorcycling World Championship come true. I would like to thank all our engineers, technicians and designers, plus the staff of the Forward Racing Team for having carried out this project in such a short amount of time. I want to express my gratitude to Giovanni Cuzari, as he believed in us and pushed us to do our best. Of course there is still a lot of work ahead of us, but step by step we will improve our competitiveness.”

GIOVANNI CUZARI - TEAM OWNER
“I have been chasing this dream since Claudio (Castiglioni’s) era. Many times I have insisted with Mv Agusta for a return in MotoGP, and, when Giovanni has taken the place of his father, I have often encouraged him to believe in such an ambitious project. Finally he did it, and today, 42 years later, we will take the first steps with the Moto2 MV Agusta prototype. I am very emotional but aware that this is only a first outing, and that there is a huge amount of work ahead of us. I got to know closely the Castiglioni Research Centre, the true heart of MV Agusta, and now I’m convinced that we have everything to accomplish a great prjoect: the passion and professionalism of the group guided by Paolo Bianchi, together with my fantastic team, which I thank individually, is definitely the right mix to be able to aim for the best. Today’s is a starting point to get to bring this brand back really high. A special thanks goes to all those who supported and support this project, now the attention goes to the track.”

BRIAN GILLEN - PROJECT LEADER
“It’s a few years now that we are thinking about a return to the Motorcycling World Championship and with the modification of the regulations of the Moto2 category for 2019 it’s the perfect opportunity to express our technical know-how, that we developed during the last six years in which we raced in Superbike and Supersport.

The Moto2 project is an ambitious one and we are involving our R&D resources and all our racing experience in order to develop a completely new bike, which differs from all the others and which reflects the values of MV Agusta.”

ENGINE: Triumph
TYPE: In-line three cylinder, 4 stroke
CAPACITY: 765 cm3
BORE X STROKE: 77.99 mm x 53.38 mm
TIMING SYSTEM: DOHC
COOLING SYSTEM: Talio water radiator and oil heat exchanger
ENGINE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: Electronic fuel injection with Marelli Magneti REX 140 ECU
INJECTORS: Single injector per cylinder
INTAKE SYSTEM: Full Ride-by-Wire throttle system
CLUTCH: FCC slipper clutch
EXHAUST SYSTEM: SC-Project titanium 3-1
   
CHASSIS: Tubular steel trellis with CNC machined aluminum side plates
SWINGARM: Aluminum CNC machined with integrated pressed sheet
SUSPENSION: Ohlins
WHEELS: OZ forged magnesium 3.75x17” front and 6.00x17”rear
 
OVERALL DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT:
WHEELBASE: 1382 mm
RAKE: 24°
TRAIL: 104 mm
FUEL TANK CAPACITY: 24 liters
DRY WEIGHT: 217 kg, motorcycle + rider
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Suzuka 8 Hours Gallery - Steve English Shoots The Race


Endurance starts: sprint across a track, jump onto a bike and race off among 50+ other bikes. Nerves of steel required


Kawasaki vs Yamaha, Rea vs Van der Mark - the battle we were all expecting


Leon Haslam, waiting


Jonathan Rea, waiting


PJ Jacobsen, waiting


Michael van der Mark, waiting. Endurance racing is hours of waiting punctuated by an hour of excitement


Endurance starts - even more terrifying in the wet


Honda got beaten at their home track again. HRC will have to up their game again in 2019


Nightfall


Bradley Ray shaking up a storm in BSB, making an impression at Suzuka


The key to endurance racing: trying to pace yourself at the limit for 8 hours or more


Some are better at it than others, of course


Why put yourself through all that torture? For this: Michael van der Mark celebrates Yamaha's 4th straight victory with Katsuyuki Nakasuga


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Suzuka 8 Hours Gallery - Steve English On Qualifying


Jonathan Rea - Can the King of WorldSBK become the King of Suzuka?


Takumi Takahashi leads a Japanese Red Bull Honda effort


Suzuka is light and darkness - Alex Lowes is defending Yamaha's crown


Ant West will race anything, anywhere, so naturally, he's racing at Suzuka


Suzuki test rider Takuya Tsuda is getting his chance to represent for Hamamatsu


Domi Aegerter giving the Musashi Honda a handful


Michael Laverty has brought a BMW and Christian Iddon to Suzuka


An American in Japan: Moto2 rider Joe Roberts is racing a Suzuki for Team Kagayama USA


Leon Haslam is practicing for 2019 by being Jonathan Rea's teammate at Suzuka


Mr Rea, taking things seriously


And Mr Lowes, wondering how to stop Mr Rea


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Suzuka 8 Hour Gallery - Steve English Shoots Practice


Suzuka is a race with a rich history and a full factory effort from Honda for the first time years is a real sign of the ever increasing importance of this race once again. Honda had trusted the efforts of supported teams in the past but now they're back and it's a full-fat Fireblade that's in action this weekend. It will take a lot to beat the Yamaha's but this is a good starting point


Sylvain Guintoli is back in action this weekend for the Yoshimura Suzuki squad and the former WorldSBK champion is keen to show exactly how much potential the bike has. A second lap crash cost the team any opportunity of success in 2017 but the bike will be fast once again


Bradley Ray has struggled in recent BSB rounds with grip issues. Armed with Bridgestone tyres this weekend he'll be keen to prove his speed to the Japanese bosses


The Number 21 Yamaha R1 has dominated recent years at the 8 Hours but they'll be under pressure this year. Honda is back with a full factory team, Kawasaki is back with Jonathan Rea and a handful of KRT WorldSBK bigwigs and the Yoshimura Suzuki has already proved to be a one-lap threat


Randy de Puniet has been moved to the Pro-Harc squad and he's certainly not afraid of sliding his Honda Fireblade through the Dunlop Curve!


It's been 20 years since Yukio Kagayama made his 500GP debut but at Suzuka he's still a big draw.


American PJ Jacobsen was elevated to the Red Bull Honda seat vacated by the injured Leon Camier. He'll be out to prove his speed but alongside two factory HRC riders he's been behind on seat time thus far.


Time to towel down! Takakki Nagagami feels the burn in qualifying


Alex Lowes does his best to tend to the grass while out on track on the Number 21 Yamaha


Michael van der Mark looks into the light as he prepares for qualifying at the Suzuka 8 Hours


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Pata Yamaha Extend With Lowes And Van Der Mark - WorldSBK Silly Season Set To Kick Off

The WorldSBK series may be on its summer hiatus, but there is still plenty of news going on. After the official announcement that Tom Sykes would not be back with the KRT Kawasaki team, it is the turn of the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK squad to make announcements. Today, the team issued a statement saying that current riders Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes will remain with the team for the 2019 season.

Though the announcement did not come as a surprise, it does close the door to Tom Sykes, who had been linked to a possible ride with Pata Yamaha, had either Van der Mark or Lowes moved to the Kawasaki team to replace him. But with Leon Haslam set to take the second seat next to Jonathan Rea, Sykes will have to look elsewhere.

These are the first signs that WorldSBK's silly season is about to accelerate over the summer. There are still a lot of open questions left in the WorldSBK series, and a lot of open seats. Complicating issues is the fact that there could be an influx of riders from the MotoGP series now that rides are all tied up in that championship. 

With the Kawasaki and Yamaha seats filled, all eyes will now turn to the Aruba Ducati squad. Chaz Davies is likely to stay at Ducati, though the Welshman would really like a chance to ride the 1000cc Panigale V4 before he makes up his mind, a desire which Ducati is not inclined to indulge. Marco Melandri could stay put - Ducati like to have an Italian rider, and Michael Ruben Rinaldi is not quite ready for a full-time gig in the factory Ducati squad - but he is also being linked to the new Yamaha squad to be run by GRT, currently racing in WorldSSP. Melandri could line up alongside Sandro Cortese, who is expected to enter WorldSBK in 2019.

The Honda line up for 2019 is an open question. Leon Camier is certain to return, but Jake Gagne, who has failed to adapt to WorldSBK, will not. Tom Sykes could be a fit in the Red Bull Honda squad, though that would require him to ditch his long-term connection to Monster Energy. The SMR Milwaukee squad is considering dropping Aprilia for Ducati, in part over a lack of support from the Noale factory, which is set to diminish even further for next season, and in part at being forced to sign Lorenzo Savadori for 2018, who has failed to live up to expectations. Eugene Laverty would help smooth the way for a switch to Ducati, as Laverty has very close ties to Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna, and would be an effective player in helping to develop the Panigale V4.

Though the summer break means that meetings will mostly take place by phone, there is every chance that when the WorldSBK paddock reconvenes in Portimao in September for the next round of the series, many more deals will be ready to be finalized. In the meantime, make sure you keep up with the latest developments in WorldSBK by listening to the last episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast with Steve English and Jensen Beeler, who take a deep dive into the WorldSBK series.

Below is the press release from the Pata Yamaha team:


Yamaha retains van der Mark and Lowes for 2019 WorldSBK Campaign

Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes will again lead Yamaha's assault on the FIM Superbike World Championship in 2019, after the two riders agreed terms with Yamaha Motor Europe during the recent Misano race weekend.

The 2019 season will be van der Mark's third in Yamaha colours. The former European Superstock and FIM World Supersport champion secured two podium finishes during his debut season aboard the Yamaha YZF-R1 in 2017, an achievement he has already surpassed in 2018.

The 25-year-old Dutch rider has finished on the podium seven times already during the first half of the 2018 season, including a career first WorldSBK win in Race 1 at Donington Park. Van der Mark then went on to take victory in Race 2 at the British round to secure his first double win during what was his most successful WorldSBK event to date. Van der Mark currently lies third in the 2018 championship standings with 248 points.

Van der Mark has also enjoyed success at the Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race, winning on three of the five occasions he's contested the race, with his last victory coming in 2017 when he rode for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team alongside Lowes and Katsuyuki Nakasuga.

For Lowes the 2019 season will be his fourth with Yamaha's official WorldSBK team, of which he's been an integral part since Yamaha made their official return to the FIM Superbike World Championship in 2016.

The 27-year-old British rider has secured seven podium finishes for Yamaha since the start of the 2017 season, including a first race win at this year's Czech Republic round in Brno. Lowes currently lies equal fifth in the 2018 championship standings with 193 points.

The former British Superbike Champion is also a two-time winner of the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race, having taken back-to-back victories for Yamaha in 2016 and 2017.

Having secured their rider line-up for the 2019 season, Yamaha's official WorldSBK team is fully motivated to return to action after the summer break, for Round 10 of the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimão, Portugal, which takes place from 14-16 September.

Michael van der Mark

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team

"I am really happy to have signed for a third season with Yamaha. I trust in this project, Yamaha believes in me as a rider and this makes for a strong combination. While we're still working to improve, it is clear that we have made significant progress, to the point where we're now winning races and fighting at the front every weekend. I am looking forward to continuing this trend and making the next step forward as we work towards our main goal of fighting for the World Championship title together."

Alex Lowes

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team

"I am really happy to continue as a part of Yamaha's World Superbike project, having been involved since they returned to the series in 2016. Since then we've been through a lot together; some ups, some downs, but we're definitely on an upward trajectory now. It was great to get my first race win this season but, of course, this success just means we expect more every weekend. I believe so much in this project, my ambition has always been to see it through to a World Championship title and I don't think that's unrealistic given the progress we've made. I have never enjoyed racing as much as I do with this team and I will continue to give it my all to get to where Yamaha needs to be. Massive thanks to Eric de Seynes, Andrea Dosoli and Paolo Pavesio at Yamaha and to Paul Denning from the team for believing in me."

Eric de Seynes

President, Yamaha Motor Europe N.V.

"We are delighted to pursue our cooperation with both Alex and Michael for the 2019 WorldSBK season.

They have done a fantastic job for Yamaha in the FIM World Superbike Championship so far and the 2018 season has been our most successful since our return in 2016, with three race wins and 10 podium finishes halfway through the championship. And obviously, Alex and Michael have played an important role in our success.

We look with confidence ahead to the upcoming season and work towards our ultimate goal: the FIM Superbike World Championship title for Yamaha."

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