After months of rampant speculation, Yamaha has officially confirmed its plan to return to the World Superbike Championship in time for the 2016 racing season. Yamaha Racing Europe announced that it would be partnering with Crescent Racing, which will be in charge of running day-to-day operations of the team as Yamaha takes the lead in the racing platform and strategy. Pata Honda’s Sylvain Guintoli and Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes will finish the current season with their respective WSBK teams before switching over to the Yamaha Crescent Racing team for next season.

The company’s return to the World Superbike Championship is long overdue. The series has remained prosperous with the likes of Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, and Suzuki all competing in the series, but Yamaha’s absence since placing second in the 2011 season has left a big void in the WSBK. Yamaha Racing didn’t dive into the specifics of its decision to return, but any fan of motorcycle racing can see that the YZF-R1’s performance in other racing classes this season, including winning the 8 Hours of Suzuka in July 2015, is one of the biggest reasons why the team is now ready to return to the WSBK. Even the bike’s MotoGP version, the YZF-M1, has been shredding the competition in the top-class, propelling riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo into the top two spots in the 2015 MotoGP standings.

The team now hopes that it can build on the momentum it has created this year in other racing classes and unleash everything it has learned in the World Superbike Championship in 2016.

Continue reading to read more about Yamaha’s return to the World Superbike Championship.

Why it matters

It’s true that Yamaha hasn’t had much success in the World Superbike Championship. In fact, in the 28 years of the series, Yamaha has only won it once (2009), well short of Ducati’s record 17 WSBK titles. But what happened in the past is neither here nor there now that we’ve seen what the new Yamaha YZF-R1 is capable of. The team’s new race bike has performed incredibly well in other classes this season and with a year of racing under its belt, there’s no telling how good Yamaha is going to be when the YZF-R1 joins the grid in the 2016 season.

I want to say that this is going to be a different Yamaha than the perennial underachiever during its first run in the WSBK. It certainly has the bike, the riders, and the technology to be a real threat to the title. But I’m holding my judgment for now because there are still so many questions that need to be answered before and after the current season ends. Jonathan Rea is on his way to winning Kawasaki’s first WSBK title so I have to take that into consideration. Even Ducati, the unquestioned king of WSBK, has not won the series since 2011, losing out to Aprilia from 2012 to 2014 and to Kawasaki this season.

Even without Yamaha, the 2016 WSBK season will have its fair share of intriguing storylines. But now that Yamaha’s returning to the series, the WSBK just became a lot more compelling.

Source: Yamaha Racing

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