Yamaha completed its new look 2011 World Superbike lineup by adding World Supersport title contender Eugene Laverty to veteran Marco Melandri.The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland will move up from the junior series in a complete remake of the Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike team. Brit Cal Crutchlow was previously announced as the replacement for Ben Spies on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team in 2011. Laverty's signing means that former World Superbike champion James Toseland is out of a ride after one year with the team.It also removes an option for Texan Colin Edwards if he can't come to terms with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team, where both sides would like him to remain. Though he hasn't equaled last season's MotoGP career year, Edwards has added value as a mentor to young riders.Laverty finished second to Crutchlow in the 2009 World Supersport championship and is well within reach of the 2010 title. Laverty stands second to Kenan Sofuoglu by 12 points, 223 to 211, with two rounds remaining, and all the momentum. He's won the last two races from the pole, running his wins total to seven and his pole positions to five."It's great to have a contract signed at this stage while still fighting for the title in the Supersport class. I desperately want to win this year before moving on," Laverty said in a statement released by Yamaha. "When I rode the Yamaha YZF-R6 in World Supersport in 2008 I was having a tough time in 250s, it's nice that Yamaha brought me to the fore and are now giving me the opportunity within superbike. Ben Spies winning the championship in 2009 and Cal Crutchlow now stepping up and winning races shows the bike and team are more than capable so the rest is up to me. I think with the team support and a good testing schedule we can start the 2011 championship ready to be competitive from the first race and be on the podium as early as possible."As for teaming with the veteran Melandri, who's spent his entire career in GP's, Laverty said, "Having a teammate like Marco Melandri is great, he has a wealth of experience to learn from so I'm going to enjoy riding with him."

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Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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