A new team will join the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship grid from 2024 as Moto2™ powerhouse Marc VDS Racing Team make the step into WorldSBK with Ducati machinery. The team will bring Sam Lowes, who rides with the outfit in Moto2™, into the Championship as he returns to the paddock he made a name for himself in by winning the World Supersport title in 2013. Next season will mark both the team’s and Lowes’ debut in WorldSBK.
A NEW ADVENTURE: Marc VDS set for maiden WorldSBK campaign
The team have secured a deal with Italian manufacturer Ducati to run a Panigale V4 R next season as they make their WorldSBK debut, competing with the bike that has won most races this season in the hands of Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). The team have opted to bring a known quantity for their first rider in WorldSBK as Sam Lowes remains with the squad but also makes the switch to WorldSBK.
Discussing the move to WorldSBK, Marc van der Straten, Team Owner and Team Manager, said: “I’m delighted and ready to begin this new adventure in the World Superbike Championship. It gives me even more pleasure to do it with our great rider, Sam Lowes. I’m also very proud to start this new adventure with Ducati, which is undoubtedly the bike to be on in WorldSBK. This opportunity for expansion comes at the perfect time. After 14 years in MotoGP™, where the Marc VDS Racing Team has shown great potential, we are ready to face a new challenge. We have competed in Moto3™, Moto2™, MotoGP™ and MotoE™ and won three titles.
“As this is a long-term project, we’ll be aiming to adapt quickly, so that we can get to the front of the pack as quickly as possible. It’s also a source of pride to be taking this step with Sam Lowes, a great rider who has shown what he’s capable of in Moto2™, and who shares our team’s values and know-how. Finally, counting on Ducati’s experience and success completes a package that has everything to be perfect and exciting!”
Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati Corse Sporting Director, added: “We are very pleased to welcome the Marc VDS Racing Team in the Ducati family for WorldSBK 2024! Marc VDS is one of the most professional and successful structures in the Moto2™ World Championship, with three world titles won, and their participation in WorldSBK next year with the highly competitive Panigale V4 R will surely add more value to the whole Championship. I would like to personally thank, also on behalf of Ducati Corse, Marc van der Straten for his trust and commitment to this exciting new racing project together with Ducati.”
TWINS ON THE GRID: Sam and Alex to do battle in 2024…
Lowes will get to race against brother Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) next year, something the pair have openly spoke about wanting to do. Sam is one of four rider who have taken victory in Moto2™ this season, alongside Pedro Acosta, Tony Arbolino and Jake Dixon. Currently eighth in the standings, Sam will remain with the team but have a new adventure next year as he makes his WorldSBK debut.
The Brit does have plenty of experience from inside the WorldSBK paddock as he returns to the place where he was crowned World Champion. The 32-year-old spent three full seasons in WorldSSP after making his debut in in 2009. He failed to score a point in five races that season but returned in 2010 at Donington for a one-off appearance and secured tenth place. That propelled him to a full-time campaign in 2011 and six podiums in 12 races put him sixth in the standings before his first win came a year later.
On home soil at Donington Park, Lowes wowed the crowd with his first WorldSSP victory and he backed that up with a second at Aragon as he took third in the Championship. In 2013, the wins, podiums and poles flowed for Lowes. 11 podiums in 12 races, including six wins as well as nine pole positions, secured him a world title as he beat Kenan Sofuoglu in the standings by 49 points. He earnt a seat in Moto2™ for 2014 on the back of this and he has been a consistent points scorer and podium contender throughout his time there.
Lowes has taken 10 Moto2™ wins and 26 podiums, with his best Championship finish coming in 2020 when he took third place. He finished nine points behind Champion Enea Bastianini in the standings and level with Luca Marini. He also has a season of MotoGP™ experience under his belt when he raced for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini in 2017, finishing 25th in the standings and scoring five points before returning to Moto2™ for 2018.
LOWES SAYS: “I am sure it can be a strong and top team in WorldSBK!”
Discussing his move to WorldSBK for 2024, Lowes said: “I have a lot to learn with the new category including the bike, the tyres, and some new tracks. I am very motivated and excited for this opportunity. I am very open minded and ready to adapt and learn what I need to be competitive in WorldSBK. I always had a goal to race in World Superbike and after winning the World Supersport title in 2013 it was a normal step. But I chose to try the Grand Prix paddock. I’m happy and proud that I’ve had such a good Grand Prix career, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I feel now it’s a great time to move across to WorldSBK to try a different machine and learn how to ride a superbike. I also believe in myself and know I can achieve good things. It’s a privilege to ride for Marc VDS Racing Team and to make this step together is a great feeling, as I am sure it can be a strong and top team in WorldSBK as well. I am very grateful to Marc van der Straten for trusting me to start this new project. We have a great relationship; we have achieved some nice things together and we aim for many more!”
- From WorldSBK.com