Michael Van der Mark will depart the Ten Kate Honda team at the end of the 2016 World Superbike Championship and will line up alongside Alex Lowes at Pata Yamaha for 2017, it has been confirmed.

The Dutch ace won the 2014 World Supersport Championship for the factory Honda squad and was promoted to the Superbike class the following season, where he impressed immediately. Currently, Van der Mark sits fifth in the standings on 185 points and has taken six podiums so far this season.

Van der Mark is highly rated within senior ranks at Honda, but seemingly the lack of innovation with the upcoming CBR1000RR SP hasn’t filled the Dutchman with enough confidence that he can win the title with Honda and has therefore decided to look elsewhere. With Yamaha’s R1 still in its infancy, there is more opportunity for the bike to develop into a championship contender.

It has also been rumoured that a move to Yamaha may put the Dutchman in line with a switch to the MotoGP World Championship for 2018 with Tech 3, something he has been keen on doing for some time now. The French team has only locked down Jonas Folger and Johann Zarco for 2017, with options available on both for a second season, so the possibility is there. Van der Mark will have to deliver Yamaha with the WorldSBK success they crave in order for a move into Prand Prix to be granted.

Van der Mark’s signing raises questions over Sylvain Guintoli’s future within World Superbikes, the 2014 Champion enduring a nightmare year on the R1 and not helped by a nasty leg break at Imola.

“I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge with Yamaha,” said the Dutchman. “I could see the potential of the R1 during its first World Superbike season this year and I’m convinced that with further development and the full support of Yamaha and the team I will have the right package to fight for the World Superbike title next year.

“It is never an easy decision to leave a team and a manufacturer after so many years and successes, I will always remain grateful for the support received and I will give my maximum for the remainder of this season to get as many podiums as possible.”

Read more from Lewis Duncan