THIS JUST IN FROM YAMAHA
Lowes Extends Yamaha WorldSBK Contract for 2018 Season
Yamaha Motor Europe are delighted to announce that Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team’s Alex Lowes has agreed a one-year extension to his contract that will see him stay with the team for the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship. Lowes signed with Yamaha in 2016 on their return to the championship and the 26-year-old British rider was delighted to agree his continued partnership with Pata Yamaha shortly after the recent Laguna Seca round. The progress made by the team has been highlighted by Lowes’ two podiums in 2017 and his current fifth place in the championship standings. Lowes will continue his partnership with teammate Michael van der Mark for the 2018 season, with the duo having just returned from completing a historic hat-trick of victories at legendary Suzuka 8 Hours with the Yamaha Factory Racing Team.
Lowes has been an integral part of Yamaha’s return to the WorldSBK championship since 2016 and has played a significant role in the development of the WorldSBK-spec R1. Impressing with his raw pace in 2016, Lowes has added consistency and podiums to his record in 2017. His spectacular performance at his home race at Donington Park, where he blasted through the field from last place to third, was a particular highlight so far in 2017 for the British rider and he is looking forward to continuing the progress he and the Pata Yamaha squad have made in 2018.
Lowes was also part of the Yamaha Factory Racing Team, alongside teammate Michael van der Mark and All-Japan Superbike Championship rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga, that recently completed a hat-trick of wins at the legendary Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race. Not only did the team emerge victorious in the race but Lowes also smashed the lap record by over a second by setting a 2:06.912, showcasing his outright pace along with incredible consistency. It was the second time in a row the former British Superbike Champion has stood on the top step of the podium at Suzuka, having also won in 2016 with the Factory Racing Team.
Van der Mark will line up alongside Lowes in the Pata Yamaha Team for the second year in succession as he enters the second year of his two-year contract, keeping the Suzuka winning teammates together for another season. The former World Supersport Champion has impressed in his debut season on the Yamaha by putting in some very strong performances, including leading the race in Misano for 13-laps before a tyre failure robbed him of the chance of victory. The 24-year-old Dutch rider has three top four finishes to his name and is currently seventh in the championship standings with 129 points, just 19 behind his teammate Lowes.
Having secured their rider line-up for the 2018 season, the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team are fully motivated to return to action after the summer break, for Round 9 of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship at the Lausitzring on the 18th-20th August.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
“I am really happy to continue with Yamaha and the Pata Yamaha Team into 2018. I feel part of the Yamaha family and this year I believe I have made a step up from last season. I want to keep improving and to get to where I, Yamaha and the R1 belong, which is challenging at the front of WorldSBK, so this is my goal and mission. I want to say a massive thank you for the faith Yamaha Motor Europe and the whole team have shown in me, and I look forward to repaying them with results!”
Road Racing Project Manager – Yamaha Motor Europe
“We’re really pleased to confirm both riders for the coming season, the project is going in the right direction and step by step we’re closing the gap to the top competitors. Being able to count on the same talented riders is fundamental for further development, as continuity is a key factor in motorsport, so we are really happy that Alex has accepted to extend the agreement for another season. We started together in a mid/long term project and the recent Suzuka 8 Hours result is another positive step on a path that will reach maturity in 2018. Michael is improving his understanding of the R1 and of the team race by race, he is becoming a fundamental part of the Yamaha Family and the 2018 season will offer him the possibility to consistently express his great talent. Let’s now focus on the remaining races of the 2017 season as we still have a lot of work to do!”