Sam Lowes to race WorldSBK with Marc VDS Ducati in 2024

Sam Lowes will move to the WorldSBK paddock in 2024 with the Marc VDS Racing Team and Ducati Panigale V4 R machinery.

Sam Lowes, Marc Van Der Straten, WorldSBK announcement.

Sam Lowes will race in the WorldSBK championship in 2024, riding a Ducati Panigale V4 R for the Marc VDS Racing Team.

The British rider, winner of 10 Grands Prix since 2014, will head to WorldSBK next year with the same Marc VDS squad he currently races for - and has done so since 2020 - in the Moto2 World Championship.

It was a move that had been rumoured for a while, with some of the main uncertainty regarding the machinery Lowes will use: Yamaha or Ducati.

From a competitive standpoint, the Ducati is currently the clear choice. From the first 18 WorldSBK races in 2023, Ducati has won 16 of them with Alvaro Bautista, and it is clearly the manufacturer most-committed to succeeding in WorldSBK.

Speaking of Lowes’ and Marc VDS’ move to WorldSBK with the Bologna brand in 2024, and indicating the potential technical support the team and Lowes could receive next year, Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti said: “We are very pleased to welcome the Marc VDS Racing Team in the Ducati family for WorldSBK 2024.

“Marc VDS is one of the most professional and successful structures in the Moto2 World Championship, with three world titles won, and their participation in WorldSBK next year with the highly competitive Panigale V4 R will surely add more value to the whole championship.

“I would like to personally thank, also on behalf of Ducati Corse, Marc Van Der Straten for his trust and commitment to this exciting new racing project together with Ducati.”

Lowes’ transition to WorldSBK with a satellite-run Ducati will be a new beginning for both himself and the Marc VDS, which gave Lowes the chance to revive his career in 2020 after he struggled in his return to Moto2 in 2018 and 2019 following his disappointing sole year in MotoGP with Aprilia.

Since going to Marc VDS, Lowes has won seven Grands Prix, bringing his own total to 10, a tally which he intends to increase in the second half of his final season of Grand Prix racing.

“We still have 12 races to go this season and I’m a little sad to only have that many left as [Moto2 is] an amazing class,” Lowes said. “We have shown good speed this year but not quite got the end result every weekend. I have some goals I want to achieve and some stats I want to my name. I’m fully motivated to finish in the best possible way.

“We [Marc VDS] are leading the Team Championship and I want to fight for top three in the overall rider standings and help win the Team title. That would be a great end to my GP career.”

Lowes’ Grand Prix career began in 2014, when he arrived in the Speed Up team in Moto2 as the reigning Supersport World Champion, having taken down 600cc ace Kenan Sofuoglu in 2013. 

On the one hand, Lowes’ GP career can be seen as underwhelming, having only lasted one season in MotoGP, and having had continuous problems with consistency. On the other hand, however, Lowes has been Britain’s most successful Grand Prix racer of the modern era, and has done it in an odd way, compared to his contemporary rivals, going through British Championship to the WorldSBK paddock and then across to Grands Prix. 

In an interview with Motor Sport Magazine’s Mat Oxley, Lowes talked about his reasons for wanting to leave Moto2 and Grand prix racing altogether, and put it down, at least to some extent, to the new MotoGP schedule, which heavily prioritises the MotoGP class and reduces the track time for Moto2 and Moto3, and even costs them their entire Sunday morning warm-up session. 

Lowes has 12 races remaining in his Grand Prix career (assuming the Indian Grand Prix goes ahead in September), beginning with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on 4-6 August. WorldSBK continues its 2023 season this weekend at the Italian round in Imola.

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