STAYING IN BLUE: Locatelli remains with Yamaha until 2025

Tuesday, 23 May 2023 12:02 GMT

Signing a new two-year contract extension, Andrea Locatelli will remain an integral part of the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK outfit for the next two World Superbike seasons

With the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship up and running and warming up for the remainder of the season, a flurry of transfer market action has happened. Just a day after it was announced that his current teammate Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) was departing for BMW in 2024, Andrea Locatelli has confirmed that he will remain in blue for the forthcoming two seasons.

STUNNING ARRIVAL: fast from the off in the WorldSBK paddock

Locatelli made the switch to the WorldSBK paddock in 2020 when he dominated in World Supersport, storming to the Championship title with two rounds to spare. He then graduated to the factory Yamaha outfit alongside Toprak Razgatlioglu, taking a podium in his maiden season at Assen. He went on to finish fourth overall, with three more podiums coming throughout the season. For 2022, Locatelli was back aboard the R1 and the Italian found his feet once more, and despite starting strongly, a mid-season dip in form meant he finished fifth by the end of the season, although he did pick up his career-best finish of second at Assen and was strong towards the end of the season with a podium at Mandalika.

BIG STEP MADE: 2023 has already been a year to remember for the #55

Coming into the current 2023 season, Locatelli is one of the riders who has made a clear step in performance, as has the Yamaha package. The only rider to score points in every race and with at least one podium from the opening four rounds – with five in total after 12 races – Locatelli sits pretty in third overall, behind teammate Razgatlioglu and reigning World Champion Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati). Until Race 2 in Barcelona, ‘Loka’ had been inside the top five in every race, with stunning consistency. He’s currently 33 points ahead of WorldSBK’s most successful rider of all-time, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “We’ve laid the groundwork for a bright future”

Speaking about the renewal, Locatelli was elated to confirm his future with the brand that gave him the opportunity to graduate, whilst speaking highly of the entire team in fuelling belief into the 26-year-old: “My objective was to continue with Yamaha, so I’m very happy to have signed for another two years. One of the best things about Yamaha is the people who believe in me, starting with Eric de Seynes, Paolo Pavesio and Andrea Dosoli, but also Riccardo Tisci and all the engineers and technicians who work so hard to give me the best bike possible. The same is true of the team. Since I arrived in WorldSBK I have enjoyed incredible support from Paul Denning and Andrew Pitt, and everyone involved in the project.

“All together we have achieved some good results but, more importantly, we have walked side-by-side on a path that has allowed me to feel more and more confident,” continued a philosophical Locatelli. We still have room for improvement in many areas, but I truly believe that with such a good relationship we will grow stronger together. If consistency is key as they say, then I think that with this extension, we’ve laid the groundwork for a bright future.”

DETERMINATION AND INTELLIGENCE: Dosoli hails ‘matured’ Locatelli

Yamaha Motor Europe’s Road Racing Manager Andrea Dosoli was also jubilant in confirming Locatelli: “It gives me great pleasure to announce that we will continue for two more years with Andrea Locatelli, in line with Yamaha’s vision of nurturing talent and forging a long-term relationship with our riders. Our journey with Andrea started in 2020 when he dominated WorldSSP aboard our R6, but his performance in 2021 when we moved him up to WorldSBK was equally impressive, finishing the season fourth and as rookie of the year.

“We have seen Andrea mature as a rider, continually progressing to the point where he is now one of the strongest in the Championship. He has shown himself to be capable of making informed technical decisions during testing, whilst his determination in the short races is matched by his intelligent management of the longer feature races. These are all good signs, and this is what convinced us that, together, we can make further steps and secure even better results in the future. On behalf of Yamaha, but also from me personally, I would like to thank Andrea for the trust he has shown in us.”

WHAT NEXT FOR YAMAHA: one rider penned, one rider leaving

Summing up the transfer market so far, Locatelli becomes the fourth factory rider confirmed on the grid for 2024 and the first for Yamaha. Whilst teammate Toprak departs for BMW at the end of the year, Locatelli’s two-year deal, taking him to 2025, means he will be the longest-serving factory Yamaha rider in consecutive seasons, with Noriyuki Haga (2005 – 2008), Alex Lowes (2016 – 2019), Michael van der Mark (2017 – 2020) and current rider Toprak Razgatlioglu (2020 – 2023) holding the record of four seasons, whereas ‘Loka’ is set for five. Jonathan Rea, Alvaro Bautista, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) are the only other riders confirmed on the grid in 2024, but Locatelli is the first signed for 2025. The big question now is who will be his teammate?

Watch the rest of an incredible 2023 season in style with the WorldSBK VideoPass!