Runaway WorldSSP Championship title-winner Andrea Locatelli will be promoted straight into the factory Pata Yamaha team for the 2021 WorldSBK Championship, it has been confirmed.

The Italian racer, who made the switch from Moto2 to WorldSSP this season with defending champions Evan Bros BARDAHL Yamaha, has dominated proceedings since claiming victory on his debut in Australia back in February.

Despite the long pause in racing, Locatelli picked up where he left off when the season resumed in August, collecting nine consecutive wins in all. Wrapping the title up with two rounds to spare, Locatelli has thus far won 11 races from the 13 started.

"I’m very proud and thankful to start this new adventure with Yamaha, it’s an important step for me after a great first year in the WorldSBK paddock,” said Locatelli, who will begin working with Andrew Pitt as his crew chief.

“Thanks to Eric de Seynes, President of Yamaha Europe, Road Racing Manager Andrea Dosoli and Pata Yamaha Team Principal Paul Denning for trusting in me.”

“I’m very excited to start working with the new team and my new crew chief Andrew Pitt, he’s a two-time world champion and has done a great job with Pata Yamaha. 

“I’m also really looking forward to getting testing started, it’ll be the first time riding the Yamaha R1 for me and I can’t wait to get my preparations for the 2021 season underway." 

Getting the nod over stablemates Loris Baz (Ten Kate) and Garrett Gerloff (GRT Junior), it is a measure of the confidence Yamaha has to promote him over his more experienced counterparts.

“Yamaha Motor Europe is very excited to introduce this young and exciting rider line-up for the 2021 WorldSBK season. Obviously, this year we bid farewell to Michael van der Mark, who has made a significant contribution to Yamaha's WorldSBK program since joining us in 2017 and whom we wish all the best for the future. 

“Replacing him we have a promising young talent in Andrea Locatelli, who was already a part of the Yamaha family. What he’s achieved in WorldSSP this year is incredible and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can achieve alongside Toprak Razgatlıoğlu in the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team next year.”

Locatelli replaces Michael van der Mark, who switches to BMW for the 2021 WorldSBK season, and will join Toprak Razgatlioglu.