Following a five-year hiatus from the World Superbike Championship, factory Yamaha returns to the series in 2016. The 2016 WSBK series will now feature eight manufacturers – Kawasaki, Ducati, Aprilia, Honda, Suzuki, BMW, MV Agusta and Yamaha.The Yamaha WSBK team receives support from Crescent Racing and PATA, and will feature a two-rider lineup – Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes – both past champions. Guintoli, who has earned 45 podiums and 10 WSBK race wins, earned the 2014 World Superbike title (Aprilia Racing Team). The 33-year-old Frenchman has also competed in 250cc, MotoGP and British Superbike.
Lowes, the 2013 British Superbike title (Honda), has earned 20 podiums, eight wins and six pole positions. The 25-year-old Brit has competed with Crescent Suzuki for the past two years in the WSBK series.The Yamaha WSBK team returns with the revised Yamaha YZF-R1, which earned the title in the 2015 MotoAmerica Superbike series with Cameron Beaubier at the controls. Back in 2009, Ben Spies earned the one and only Yamaha WSBK title after a record-breaking season. The YZF-R1 was also raced in WSBK by other known names in motorcycle racing, including Noriyuki Haga, Troy Corser, James Toseland, Marco Melandri and Cal Crutchlow.The revised Yamaha R1 also won the legendary Suzuki 8 Hours race with Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith and five-time All Japan Superbike Champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga at the cotnrols.Crescent – the only UK-based team in World Superbike that has a 20-year racing history in British Superbike, WSBk and MotoGP – will offer full support for the factory Yamaha team.“This is a very exciting moment for us as we eagerly wait to return to the top level of Superbike competition next year after an absence of four years,” commented Yamaha Motor Europe Chief Operating Officer, Eric De Seynes. “Having re-written the Supersport rule book and changed the game with the new YZF-R1, directly developed from Yamaha MotoGP technology, it was clear we would need to return to the World Superbike Championship to show the full potential of our new Superbike machine.“We took one year to grow experience with the new R1 in many other championships where the bike has shown its potential already, with the amazing 8H of Suzuka victory and the very positive results that our official Teams are gathering all around Europe. Now we are ready to be back on the world stage and I am happy we have found in Crescent the same values of professionalism, engineering detail and passion for victory we share.”
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.