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Alex Lowes linked to Kawasaki as Yamaha exit confirmed

Alex Lowes is officially confirmed to be leaving Yamaha at the end of the 2019 season ahead of an expected switch to Kawasaki for 2020 WorldSBK

Alex Lowes’ exit from the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK team has been formally confirmed by the manufacturer as paddock talk in Magny-Cours suggests he is in line to join Kawasaki alongside champion Jonathan Rea for the 2020 WorldSBK season.

The official confirmation of the split has been expected for some weeks after Lowes himself revealed he wouldn’t be retained by Yamaha for 2020 after losing out in an internal battle with team-mate Michael van der Mark for one available seat.

With van der Mark retained, an announcement is expected soon that he will be joined by Toprak Razgatlioglu – a double winner at Magny-Cours – in 2020. They will ride the latest generation Yamaha R1.

Currently third in the WorldSBK standings with two rounds remaining – ahead of both Razgatlioglu and van der Mark – Lowes exits Yamaha after four seasons, though he has competed with Crescent Racing for six seasons when it originally ran a Suzuki entry.

Scoring his first WorldSBK win last season in Brno, Lowes also endeared himself to his Yamaha employees by playing his part in a trio of Suzuki 8 Hours successes between 2016 and 2018.   

“I would like to start by saying thank you to Alex, not just for the success we have enjoyed together in WorldSBK and at Suzuka, but also for his commitment to Yamaha and our Superbike project, which he has been an integral part of from the beginning,” said Eric de Seynes.

“It was a difficult decision not to continue with Alex in the same role for the 2020 season, but it was also our sincere hope that he would remain within the Yamaha family. We knew there was a risk and, unfortunately, that risk has turned out to be real and Alex will not be on a Yamaha next season. 

“Working with Alex these past four years has been a real pleasure for me and on behalf of both Yamaha and myself I wish Alex every success for the future."

Alex Lowes tipped to join Kawasaki for WorldSBK 2020

While few will feign surprise at the Lowes-Yamaha split given his own comments back in August, this official announcement from the Yamaha fold does put paid to any suggestion he could have swapped to the sister Ten Kate Racing outfit, as the manufacturer had hoped.

However, shifting Lowes to a privateer team would have always been a hard sell, not least given his current championship position relative to the riders that have effectively gotten the nod over him.

Nevertheless, if he lands the Kawasaki Racing deal he has been heavily linked with, it could prove a blessing in disguise.

With Leon Haslam’s form dwindling as the season runs its course having slipped 21 points behind Razgatlioglu on the privateer Puccetti machine and Kawasaki losing out on the chance to sign the Turkish rider, Lowes seems a natural fit. 

Putting him directly up against five-time WorldSBK champion Rea represents another huge challenge for Lowes but places him on arguably a better machine than the Yamaha, though this will remain speculative until the new R1 breaks cover.

Though Lowes’ WorldSBK record is one of perhaps untapped potential given his single win and 15 podiums against a start count of 160 races, 2019 – his seventh season in WorldSBK - represents his best yet in terms of savvy race craft and single lap form.

What seems an untimely exit may well reap its biggest rewards

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