Locatelli’s crew chief since joining WorldSBK was Andrew Pitt, who has since moved to the other side of the garage to work with the Pata Yamaha team’s latest signing, Jonathan Rea.

That means Locatelli was in need of a new crew chief with O’Kane brought in from the Japanese manufacturer’s MotoGP project.

Locatelli told WorldSBK.com: “I think, after three years, it was important to try and find something new. My new crew chief is Tom O’Kane from Yamaha MotoGP. 

“I know him because he’s a really big name in the paddock, especially in the MotoGP paddock. 

“It’s really interesting to start working with a really high level crew chief and I think he can be really important for me to have a really solid side, especially from this area and the crew chief and electronics can be a really big step for me in the future.”  

The 2023 season was Locatelli’s best in the class since joining from WorldSSP in 2020.

His results, along with closing the gap in performance to Toprak Razgatlioglu meant he was a contender for P3 with Rea in the championship before losing out to his new team-mate. 

But the Italian knows more work is needed if he’s going to become a winner in the Superbike class, which starts with testing.

Talking after the Jerez test last week, Locatelli said: “After the race, we knew it wasn’t important to immediately try the bike because we were at the end of the season. 

“During the year, we have some new stuff from Yamaha to try so it’ll be important to find good conditions. 

“Without these, it’s difficult to try the new stuff. If we can find a good track with good weather, we have a lot of work to do. 

“It’s important because we only have these two days to understand everything and then we’re waiting until January to be back on track. I think the work we do will be really important.”