The Pata Yamaha squad has re-signed both Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes for the 2019 World Superbike championship, confirming an unchanged line-up for next year.

While speculation had linked van der Mark as a potential replacement for Tom Sykes at Kawasaki, following the announcement of Sykes's split from the team earlier this week, the Dutch rider has opted to stay with Pata Yamaha ahead of a third consecutive campaign having switched from the Ten Kate Racing-run Honda squad at the start of 2017.

Alex Lowes puts R1 to the test

Lowes, who joined the Pata Yamaha set-up upon the Japanese manufacturer’s official return to the World Superbike championship in 2016, will continue for a fourth straight year and extends his long-term partnership with the Crescent Racing squad having made his full season debut in the series with the team running Suzuki machines.

Both riders have signed one-year deals at the team which were secured during the Misano round earlier this month. The pair will now turn attention to defending Yamaha’s crown at the Suzuka 8 Hours on July 27-29 before the restart of the World Superbike championship in Portimao on September 14-16.

“We are delighted to pursue our cooperation with both Alex and Michael for the 2019 WorldSBK season,” Eric de Seynes, President of Yamaha Motor Europe, said. “They have done a fantastic job for Yamaha in the FIM World Superbike Championship so far and the 2018 season has been our most successful since our return in 2016, with three race wins and 10 podium finishes halfway through the championship. And obviously, Alex and Michael have played an important role in our success.

“We look with confidence ahead to the upcoming season and work towards our ultimate goal: the FIM Superbike World Championship title for Yamaha.”

Van der Mark has echoed de Seynes’s comments with the focus of consistently fighting for wins having clinched his maiden World Superbike victories in a dramatic double at Donington Park in May.

“I am really happy to have signed for a third season with Yamaha,” van der Mark said. “I trust in this project, Yamaha believes in me as a rider and this makes for a strong combination. While we're still working to improve, it is clear that we have made significant progress, to the point where we're now winning races and fighting at the front every weekend. 

“I am looking forward to continuing this trend and making the next step forward as we work towards our main goal of fighting for the World Championship title together.”

Lowes has enjoyed a similar breakthrough campaign with the team this year having taken his maiden series race win in race two at Brno.

“I am really happy to continue as a part of Yamaha's World Superbike project, having been involved since they returned to the series in 2016,” Lowes said. “Since then we've been through a lot together; some ups, some downs, but we're definitely on an upward trajectory now.

“It was great to get my first race win this season but, of course, this success just means we expect more every weekend. I believe so much in this project, my ambition has always been to see it through to a World Championship title and I don't think that's unrealistic given the progress we've made.

“I have never enjoyed racing as much as I do with this team and I will continue to give it my all to get to where Yamaha needs to be. Massive thanks to Eric de Seynes, Andrea Dosoli and Paolo Pavesio at Yamaha and to Paul Denning from the team for believing in me.”

Rumours have also surfaced linking current World Supersport champions GRT Yamaha with a move up to World Superbikes for 2019 to expand the Japanese manufacturer’s current efforts in the series.