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Van der Mark to leave Yamaha WSBK squad after 2020

Yamaha has announced that Michael van der Mark will be departing its factory World Superbike outfit at the conclusion of the 2020 season.

Dutch rider van der Mark has been part of Yamaha’s Crescent Racing-run works WSBK team since the 2017 season, making the move after two years with Honda.

In that time he has achieved three wins and a best championship placement of third in 2018, also helping the Iwata manufacturer to two Suzuka 8 Hours victories in ’17 and ’18.

After the opening round of the coronavirus-hit 2020 season, van der Mark lies fifth in the standings having taken two fourths and a fifth in the Phillip Island season opener, three points behind new teammate Toprak Razgatlioglu.

A statement issued by Yamaha said van der Mark was “opting to take on a new challenge in 2021”, an apparent reference to the 27-year-old’s likely switch to BMW next season.

That would leave incumbent BMW riders Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty fighting for a single free seat in the Shaun Muir Racing-run squad for 2021.

Van der Mark’s impending departure follows that of former teammate Alex Lowes, who left the Yamaha camp at the end of last year to join the all-conquering Kawasaki works team.

Since then Lowes’ contract has been extended by an additional year, which was followed by confirmation that five-time WSBK champion Jonathan Rea will also be staying on board at Kawasaki for at least another two seasons after this year.

Also with 2021 deals already confirmed are Razgatlioglu, who is staying at Yamaha, and Ducati’s new recruit Scott Redding.

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Racing

W Series: Getting driver in F1 the 'ultimate' aim

Helping a female driver secure a seat in Formula 1 is the “ultimate ambition” of W Series, according to the communications director.

The female-only championship has proven popular since it began in 2019, with it making champion Jamie Chadwick a huge name in the world of motorsport.

Her success in the series led to her being signed by Williams as a development driver. Furthermore, she’ll also be competing in regional Formula 3 with Prema with the aim of moving up the ranks.

This is the sort of route that various young drivers have taken to make it into F1 over the years. For her or another W series driver to do the same is one of the competition’s biggest objectives, according to Matt Bishop.

“We have a couple of drivers in their 30s, in fact, one of our more successful drivers Emma Kimilainen is in her 30s and is a mother,” the communications director said as per grandprix247.com.

“We want to drive more female drivers into the higher echelons of international single-seater racing, F3, F2 and I am not predicting it but our ultimate ambition is Formula 1.

“With Emma Kimilainen she has won races on track and on sim, but she is not going to make F1 because the timing is wrong, but perhaps Ira Sidorkova, who knows. She turns 17 tomorrow.”

Sidorkova and 19-year-old Marta Garcia have both impressed in the W Series Esports League and are two of various exciting young talents who will be hoping to one day make it to the F1 grid.

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