Cal Crutchlow will leave HM Plant Honda and the British Superbike Championship to ride in place of Broc Parkes in Yamaha's factory World Supersport outfit for 2009.
"I'm really looking forward to the experience," said Cal. "To go into what is in my eyes the top team in the World Supersport paddock and have the opportunity to challenge for a world title with Yamaha is very exciting. I'm really looking forward to next season, I can't wait!"
Crutchlow began his second season in BSB, and first with HM Plant Honda, by claiming his debut win at the opening Thruxton round. The 22-year-old currently sits fourth in the standings, with one further race victory and a total of ten podiums.
"It's always sad to leave a team, especially one as professional and well-run as HM Plant Honda. This season it felt like I was coming home after winning the 2006 British Supersport title with Honda, but I've never made a secret of my desire to move onto the world stage as soon as possible and with the opportunity I've been presented with, now is the time to do that," explained Crutchlow.
"With my plans for 2009 sorted and with just two rounds to go in this season's British Superbike championship, I can now concentrate on doing the best I can to reward the team with more wins and podiums as I concentrate on regaining second place in the championship," added Cal, who finished second as a wild-card at the Donington Park WSBK round (pictured).
"Cal has worked incredibly well this year and we made him an offer for 2009 to stay with us," revealed HM Plant Honda team manager Havier Beltran. "But, we fully understand Cal's ambitions to move into the world championship arena, fully support him in his decision and wish him all the best for his debut in the World Supersport series."
Crutchlow had been linked to the Yamaha Italia WSBK seat subsequently taken by fellow BSB star Tom Sykes, but will now follow in the footsteps of Johnny Rea by stepping from BSB to WSS in the hope of securing a factory WSBK ride thereafter.
"We've been talking to many strong riders over the last couple of months and have been following Cal's progress this year in the British Superbike Championship, he's really impressed us," stated Yamaha World Supersport Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg. "We're convinced that his riding style will suit our YZF R6 very well. He's a very good Supersport rider, we know that coming from Superbikes to Supersport riders don't have any issues with speed. The 2009 championship will be tough again and we have seen him prove on track that he is happy to get in the middle of the pack and fight for the win.”
The Yamaha World Supersport Team currently consists of Parkes and Fabien Foret, although Foret is injured. The Frenchman has recently been replaced by Eugene Laverty, who finished in third position at last weekend's Vallelunga round.
However, it now looks as though neither Parkes nor Laverty will be part of the team's 2009 line-up.
"With Cal we are confident that we have another title challenger next to Fabien Foret for the 2009 season," said Laurens Klein Koerkamp, racing division manager of Yamaha Motor Europe. "At only 22 years old he has a wealth of experience on both Superbikes and Supersport machines already. It is also really pleasing for us to see a rider from the R6 Cup stepping up to a world level competition on a Yamaha."
The future plans of Parkes, Laverty and Crutchlow's HM Plant Honda team-mate Leon Haslam remain unknown.