Yamaha R6 to get upgrade rather than replacement for WorldSSP

The Yamaha R6 will remain the sportsbike of choice for the Japanese marque beyond the 2022 WorldSSP season as its category dominance comes under threat

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The Yamaha R6 will soldier on beyond 2022 in international competition despite being taken off public sale and the prospect of coming up against a wave of new, larger engined rivals in the WorldSSP Championship it dominates.

The Iwata marque’s mid-range sportsbike has been a mainstay at the top of the podium in Supersport competitions around the world ever since the fourth generation R6 was unveiled in 2017 but came to the end of the road when it reverted to a track-only model in 2020.

In a WorldSSP context, the machine has notched up five consecutive titles and an extraordinary 62 race wins in that time, or - put a different way - all but six races since 2017.

In short, the 600cc four-cylinder pocket rocket has been almost unstoppable but its time at the top looks to be under serious threat in 2022 after an overhaul of the regulations to allow larger engine models to compete.

Dubbed ‘Supersport Next Generation’, the broadening of the homologation has allowed MV Agusta to upgrade its F3 675 to the F3 800, while the Ducati Panigale V2 and Triumph STR765 will be represented on the grid. The MV Agusta Superveloce 800 and Suzuki GSX-R750 are also included but are unlikely to feature on the grid.

The venerable Yamaha R6 and Kawasaki ZX-6R will compete alongside their new rivals in 2022, before being given the chance to swap their entries for something bigger in 2023, with Kawasaki likely to do just that with the Ninja 636.

Yamaha, however, will race on with the R6 despite rumours of a potential new sportsbike in the R9 being eligible to compete using the running gear of the MT-09.

It won’t go into battle with the same armoury though with homologation documents revealing the Yamaha R6 of 2023 will have GYTR camshafts, throttle body hoses and velocity stacks, plus an ‘Engine Kit’ though exactly what that is is unclear.

2021 WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter will remain with Ten Kate Racing to defend his title on the Yamaha, with his big returning competition likely to be Can Oncu, while a bevy of WorldSSP 300 riders make the step, including Briton Tom Booth-Amos and champion Adrian Huertas.

Ducati, meanwhile, have four confirmed entries on its new Panigale V2, including Oli Bayliss - son of triple WorldSBK champion Troy - and the upgraded MV Agusta F3 800 will be in the hands of Niki Tuuli and Bahattin Sofuoglu, cousin of five-time WorldSSP Champion Kenan Sofuoglu.

Finally, Triumph’s first season of WorldSSP in ten years will be headed up by Estonia’s Hannes Soomer and Italian Moto2 exile Stefano Manzi.