Yamaha announced its return to the World Superbike Championship, vying for the 2016 season with Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes on the YZF-R1.
“Having re-written the Supersport rule book and changed the game with the new YZF-R1, directly developed from Yamaha MotoGP technology, it was clear we would need to return to the World Superbike Championship to show the full potential of our new Superbike machine,” says Eric De Seynes, Yamaha Motor Europe chief operating officer.
The factory Yamaha team will work with U.K.-based Crescent Racing and title sponsor PATA, both familiar names in WSBK with other manufacturers.
The Japanese manufacturer last competed in WSBK in 2011, just two seasons after American Ben Spies won Yamaha’s first title. The return to WSBK competition was much expected following the introductions of the new YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M for 2015. The updated R1 has already been race-tested, with newly-crowned champion Cameron Beaubier and Josh Hayes splitting 18 wins to sweep the inaugural MotoAmerica championship. Next season will see the R1 tackle the top-tier production-based roadracing championship.
“We took one year to grow experience with the new R1 in many other championships where the bike has shown its potential already, with the amazing 8H of Suzuka victory and the very positive results that our official Teams are gathering all around Europe,” says De Seynes. “Now we are ready to be back on the world stage and I am happy we have found in Crescent the same values of professionalism, engineering detail and passion for victory we share.”
While Yamaha Motor Europe will handle race strategy, technical development and rider contracts, while Crescent will be responsible for on-site operations at each round.
Guintoli and Lowes bring their impressive resumes to Yamaha. Guintoli won the 2014 WSBK Championship with Aprilia while Lowes, twin brother of racer Sam Lowes, has three WSBK podiums to go along with a British Superbike Championship in 2013 with Honda.