Yamaha has announced that Michael van der Mark will be leaving their WorldSBK team at the end of the 2020 WorldSBK season. After what will be four seasons with the Pata Yamaha squad, the 27-year-old Dutchman has decided to leave for pastures new.
There is as yet no confirmation of where Van der Mark is heading, but reports on Speedweek suggest his destination is likely to be BMW.
With Kawasaki already having signed Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea, and little interest from either Ducati or Honda, BMW is the obvious choice.
That would also automatically lower the combined age of the BMW team. At 27, Van der Mark is 7 years younger than either Tom Sykes or Eugene Laverty, who are both 34. Though, which one of the two is likely to stay is as yet uncertain.
Tom Sykes has proven himself to be competitive on the S1000RR, but Eugene Laverty’s development feedback has been rated extremely highly wherever he has ridden. That could be a crucial factor for a pairing with Van der Mark, who is not known for his feedback, though his speed is never in question.
Why would Van der Mark leave Yamaha? There is a strong possibility his departure is linked to the arrival of Toprak Razgatlioglu in the Pata Yamaha squad.
For years, Van der Mark was seen as the up-and-coming young talent in WorldSBK, until Razgatlioglu arrived on the scene.
For the young Turkish rider to be signed into the Yamaha squad, and then feted for his victory in Race 1 at Phillip Island, the first WorldSBK race of 2020, would have been tough for Van der Mark to bear.
If he believed, or felt he deserved, the number one position in the team, this would have dented his confidence that this was so.
Who replaces Van der Mark at Pata Yamaha is also unclear. The obvious choice would be to take a rider from the GRT Yamaha team, or perhaps even Loris Baz from Ten Kate. But there are no signs of a choice having been made there yet.
Source: Yamaha Racing; Photo: © 2018 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved