Honda has confirmed its World Supersport Champion Michael van der Mark will step up to the World Superbike Championship with Pata Honda in 2015 on a two-year agreement.

The young Dutchman, who has progressed through the European motorcycling ranks under the guidance of the Ten Kate Racing operation, dominated the World Supersport Championship in 2014, wrapping up the title with two races to spare having won five of eight races.

Adding to the European Superstock 600 title he won in 2011, van der Mark has inevitably been in high demand - with murmurs of a possible move straight into MotoGP - but the 21-year-old has now committed his immediate future with Honda once more by signing to ride the CBR1000RR in 2015 and 2016.

"I'm really, really happy with this next step," he said. "It's been going in two-year stages for me with the team, so this next stage in World Superbikes is fantastic and really exciting. It's a good and safe place to be with Honda for 2015 and 2016.

"I've had a great experience with this team for the last two years and there was never really any question that I would be going anywhere else. World Superbikes in 2015 is going to be really interesting - there are new technical regulations and I think there will be a few surprises next year. Although the electronics will be a big change for me, I have shown that I can ride a superbike and now I really can't wait to get started."

For team manager Ronald ten Kate, signing van der Mark to the Superbike team is a validation of a junior programme that has seen the youngster emerge as one of the sport's most exciting talents, but admits he is sad to be losing him to a fully-fledged Honda contract.

"In a way, I'm a little sad that we have to let Michael go from his contract with Ten Kate Racing for 2015. But in reality, I am absolutely happy and proud that he has been given this fantastic opportunity with Honda. There is now a clear plan and vision to grow his impressive talent in the future.

"We have been working with Michael now for four years - two in Superstock 600 and two in World Supersport - so this next step for him feels completely natural. He fully deserves this chance and we are all looking forward to taking these next steps together with him."

It is not known whether van der Mark will replace Jonathan Rea or Leon Haslam, though the former has been linked with Kawasaki and the latter has admitted he is unlikely to remain with the manufacturer for 2015.



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