Sam Lowes will swap from Honda to Yamaha machinery for the 2013 World Supersport Championship - and beyond.
The 22-year-old Englishman has signed a surprise three-year deal with Yakhnich Motorsport, with the aim of winning the World Supersport title and then moving on to the premier World Superbike class.
Lowes, third in the 2012 WSS championship, will ride alongside Russian Vladimir Leonov next season. The team will receive official support from Yamaha Motor Europe but carry out its own technical development.
"I'm very happy to be joining the Yakhnich Motorsport Team,” said Lowes. “They have given me a fantastic opportunity to compete and fight for the world title in 2013.
“I've seen how professionally they work and how their performances increased during the 2012 season and that's why I think I'm now in the right place at the right moment to be able to win next year's championship.
“I look forward to riding the Yamaha R6, a very strong bike, and starting my work with the Yakhnich team very soon. I'm very excited. Thanks to the whole team for their belief in me and support and all the fans behind me! Roll on 2013!"
Team principal Alexander Yakhnich added: "I'm happy to announce that Yakhnich Motorsport takes another step in its long-term program for the World Supersport class and - in the future - for the Superbike class.
"Our plan is in the future to bring both riders to the top level even in the World Superbike Championship. That's why we signed with both of them a long-term contract".
Lowes won two races this year for the Bogdanka PTR Honda team.