Marco Melandri will remain in the World Superbike championship next year after signing a deal with GRT Yamaha alongside Sandro Cortese who steps up to the premier class as World Supersport champion.

Melandri had been left without a ride for 2019 after being axed by the Aruba.it Racing Ducati squad in favour of Alvaro Bautista but has secured his future switching to GRT Yamaha who will move up to the Superbike class next season.

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The Italian rider will team up with Cortese, who claimed the World Supersport crown this year, to form the all-new GRT Yamaha line-up in its expansion into the World Superbike class, having sealed the 2017 World Supersport title with Lucas Mahias, and will receive factory-supported Yamaha YZF-R1s.

“I am really delighted to be stepping up to the WorldSBK championship with Yamaha, it's like a dream come true,” Filippo Corti, GRT Yamaha WorldSBK team manager, said. “We started this project in WorldSSP and now we are moving up to WorldSBK, which is very important for the team but also for Yamaha's production racing program.

“It's a big step for us and we know we will be facing a steep learning curve in our debut season, but our two riders bring with them a wealth of experience.

“Riders don't come more experienced than Marco, who has been a frontrunner in WorldSBK since he came to the championship in 2011. And while 2019 will be Sandro's first season on a WorldSBK machine, he's the reigning WorldSSP champion and a former Moto3 World Champion, so I expect him to adapt quickly to our Yamaha YZF-R1.

“We need to learn a lot in this new category, but our target is clear; we want to be as competitive in WorldSBK as we have been in WorldSSP. Maybe this isn't possible in our debut season, but that's the goal for the future.”

Both Cortese and Melandri will get to grips with the YZF-R1 for the first time at a two-day Jerez test on the 26-27 November.

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