WorldSBK

Michael van der Mark confirms Yamaha exit, BMW WorldSBK beckons?

Michael van der Mark and Yamaha announce they will part ways at the end of the 2020 WorldSBK Championship with the Dutchman tipped for a move to BMW

Michael van der Mark has caught both WorldSBK and seemingly Yamaha off guard by announcing he will walk away from the manufacturer at the end of the 2020 WorldSBK season.

The Dutchman joined Yamaha from Honda in 2017 and has become a frequent front runner, if not quite able to bridge the performance gap between the R1 and the Kawasaki ZX-10RR in Jonathan Rea’s hands.

Nonetheless, van der Mark picked up three wins across three seasons and was competitive from the off in Australia three months ago with the latest generation R1, making his exit revelation all the more surprising.

Presuming his destination will be one of the three factory teams with at least one seat free for 2021 as it stands – Ducati, Honda or BMW – rumours are tipping him for a move to the latter.

Indeed, while van der Mark’s early pronouncement on his future caught fans off guard, it seems even Yamaha didn’t expect to lose him either having only given him the nod over Alex Lowes in a direct shootout last season.

“Yamaha wanted to continue their journey with Michael and in fact offered him a renewal of the contract for next season,” Andrea Dosoli told GPOne.com. “The company offered him the best based obviously on what the budget related to the Superbike project is.

“He simply told us that he was grateful to us for the efforts, but he wanted more. So he decided to look elsewhere. In recent days he informed us of the choice and this morning we issues the official communication.”

Who will replace Michael van der Mark at Yamaha?

van der Mark’s exit means a high-profile berth is already in the offing alongside Toprak Razgatlioglu, who marked his debut on the R1 at Phillip Island with victory.

Looking internally, Yamaha has gone to lengths to establish a rider career ladder with Federico Caricasulo and Garret Gerloff assuming position in the GRT Junior team right now. However, the favourite will surely be Loris Baz, who has largely matched the factory riders on his ‘similar but not quite’ Ten Kate Racing variant,

Beyond that, ex-MotoGP rider Jonas Folger could be a consideration depending on whether he does a Scott Redding and romps to the German IDM Superbike title at his attempt.

Meanwhile, Yamaha has previously looked to the British Superbike Championship riders as potential deputies for their usual line-up meaning a good showing by Tarran Mackenzie in particular could well smooth his way to the world stage.
 

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