Paul Denning, team manager of the Pata Yamaha World Superbike team, has spent the season having to answer endless questions about the lack of race results, various injuries suffered by the riders (particularly Guintoli) and the technical problems with the new Yamaha R1, which is essentially a great bike but a demanding one in terms of the development needed for it to be able to compete against its strongest rivals.
But with Alex Lowes having renewed his contract, and the arrival of Michael Van Der Mark, 2017 could be a calmer year and one in which the British team could see significant improvement: “this season - explains Denning to wsbk- we've had to deal with the riders' injuries and, as a result, it's been difficult to move forward with the development of our R1 but next year we hope to be more reactive and consistent, improving and developing the bike as our rivals are doing”.
The new arrival, Dutchman Van Der Mark, is young, fast and ambitious and will be expected to achieve significantly better results than those obtained so far with the Honda CBR1000: “Van Der Mark and his manager - continues Denning - know Andrea Dosoli very well and right from the first races the Dutch rider was expressing an interest in our bike and how it was going on track. Cameron Beaubier, Niccolò Canepa and the two official riders Guintoli and Lowes have all ridden our bike this year and various riders have noted its potential. Van Der Mark started negotiations with us and this led to us formulating an agreement”.
With Lowes staying put and the arrival of the Dutch rider, the rider losing his place is 2014 world champion Sylvain Guintoli, after a season characterised by injury and a long recovery period: “We're really sorry to lose Sylvain, because he a talented rider who is very consistent on track. But the Yamaha philosophy has evolved over the years and the link between Yamaha Europe and the mother company in Japan is now very strong and direct, and one of the company's objectives is to improve the SBK R1 and compete for the title. But that's not all, as the Yamaha philosophy is also about helping new, young talent to grow, in both the Japanese national championship with the new R3, (as well as in a possible new world Supersport 300 series) and also in Supersport 600, Superstock and SBK. Lowes and Van Der Mark could be used by Yamaha in various ways, across different categories”.
Denning, looking ahead to 2017, goes on to explain how Yamaha Japan will be more involved in the SBK project: “As I've already said, thanks to Andrea Dosoli, relations between our team, Yamaha Europe and the Japanese company continue to be strengthened and, after Lowes' result at the Suzuka 8 Hours, the Japanese have realised that the SBK represents an important, competitive challenge and understand the level of commitment required in order to obtain good results. Yamaha is directly involved in enduro, motocross, SBK and, of course, MotoGP. The 2017 SBK goal is to be competitive and fight for the title”.