Yamaha has announced Michael van der Mark will exit Yamaha at the conclusion of the 2020 WorldSBK Championship after four years competing together.

The Dutchman joined Yamaha from Honda at the start of the 2017 WorldSBK season and has firmly established himself as a race win contender on the R1, even if he hasn’t ultimately been able to take the fight to the dominant Jonathan Rea.

With three WorldSBK wins and two successes at the Suzuka 8 Hours race under his belt, van der Mark will venture to pastures new at the end of the 2020 WorldSBK season.

With Yamaha simply saying in a statement that he is opting to ‘take on a new challenge in 2021’, there is no clear indication as to where van der Mark might go.

As it stands, only Kawasaki has a confirmed factory line-up for 2021, with BMW, Honda and Ducati still offering at least one seat for 2021 as it stands. Of these, BMW has been tipped as van der Mark’s most likely destination.

The news comes a little over a month before the 2020 WorldSBK season resumes, which in turn is more than four months on from the opening round in Australia. van der Mark began his season with a trio of top five results riding the latest generation R1, while new team-mate Toprak Razgatlioglu secured a race win on his debut with the team.

The revised schedule will see WorldSBK restart at Jerez on July 31 – August 2, before heading to Portimao in Portugal a week later.