Yamaha picks Locatelli for 2021 WorldSBK seat alongside Razgatlioglu

WorldSSP Champion Andrea Locatelli is chosen as Michael van der Mark's replacement in the Pata Yamaha team for the 2021 WorldSBK Championship

Andrea Locatelli - BARDAHL Evan Bros Yamaha

Newly-crowned WorldSSP Champion Andrea Locatelli has been chosen as the rider to replace Michael van der Mark in the factory Pata Yamaha team for the 2021 WorldSBK Championship, where he will be paired alongside Toprak Razgatlioglu.

The factory Yamaha ride was one of the most coveted seats on the 2021 WorldSBK Championship still to be filled, with a number of riders from within Yamaha's own camp alone understood to be in contention for the available R1.

However, while Loris Baz was considered a favourite to land the seat, it is Locatelli that has instead been promoted straight to the Crescent Racing-run Pata Yamaha factory set up. 

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Switching to WorldSSP from Moto2 with defending champions Evan Bros Yamaha this season, the Italian took the class by storm, winning on his debut in Australia back in February before collecting another eight consecutive successes on the resumption of racing.

Wrapping up the title with two rounds to sparee in Barcelona, Locatelli heads into this weekend's Estoril 2020 WorldSBK finale with 11 wins from 13 races.

With another WorldSSP champion in Andrew Pitt coming on board as his crew chief, Locatelli is ‘thankful’ for the opportunity to secure a factory chance.

"I’m very proud and thankful to start this new adventure with Yamaha, it’s an important step for me after a great first year in the WorldSBK paddock,” said Locatelli. “Thanks to Eric de Seynes, President of Yamaha Europe, Road Racing Manager Andrea Dosoli and Pata Yamaha Team Principal Paul Denning for trusting in me.”

“I’m very excited to start working with the new team and my new crew chief Andrew Pitt, he’s a two-time world champion and has done a great job with Pata Yamaha. 

“I’m also really looking forward to getting testing started, it’ll be the first time riding the Yamaha R1 for me and I can’t wait to get my preparations for the 2021 season underway." 

Replacing BMW-bound Michael van der Mark, Locatelli’s signing saw him picked over Yamaha stablemates Baz (Ten Kate), as well as Garrett Gerloff (GRT Junior), plus the likes of ex-MotoGP rider Jonas Folger and Federico Caricasulo.

However, Andrea Dosoli says Locatelli’s promotion is reward for the ‘incredible’ results he has achieved in his record-breaking 2020 WorldSSP campaign

Andrea Dosoli, Yamaha Motor Europe’s Road Racing Manager, said: “Yamaha Motor Europe is very excited to introduce this young and exciting rider line-up for the 2021 WorldSBK season. Obviously, this year we bid farewell to Michael van der Mark, who has made a significant contribution to Yamaha's WorldSBK program since joining us in 2017 and whom we wish all the best for the future. 

“Replacing him we have a promising young talent in Andrea Locatelli, who was already a part of the Yamaha family. What he’s achieved in WorldSSP this year is incredible and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can achieve alongside Toprak Razgatlıoğlu in the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team next year.”