Former Ducati WorldSBK star Marco Melandri has been thrown a lifeline by the GRT Yamaha squad and will line-up for them next season with reigning WorldSSP Champion Sandro Cortese.
It had been thought that team boss Filipo Conti wanted two younger riders in his squad but he has opted for the experience of Melandri alongside the relative youth of the 28-year-old German.
“I am really delighted to be stepping up to the WorldSBK championship with Yamaha, it’s like a dream come true. We started this project in WorldSSP and now we are moving up to WorldSBK, which is very important for the team but also for Yamaha’s production racing program,” said Conti.
“It’s a big step for us and we know we will be facing a steep learning curve in our debut season, but our two riders bring with them a wealth of experience. Riders don’t come more experienced than Marco, who has been a frontrunner in WorldSBK since he came to the championship in 2011.
“And while 2019 will be Sandro’s first season on a WorldSBK machine, he’s the reigning WorldSSP champion and a former Moto3 World Champion, so I expect him to adapt quickly to our Yamaha YZF-R1.
“We need to learn a lot in this new category, but our target is clear; we want to be as competitive in WorldSBK as we have been in WorldSSP. Maybe this isn’t possible in our debut season, but that’s the goal for the future.”