Irish rider Eugene Laverty has been handed a factory ride in next year's World Superbike Championship in a move which leaves James Toseland's future in doubt.

Laverty, 24, will ride in the Sterilgarda Yamaha team alongside Marco Melandri next year after effectively taking Toseland's place.

Laverty is in the running for the World Supersport crown this season and has earned his promotion while former double World Superbike champion Toseland is on the lookout for a new challenge after ending his three-year stay with Yamaha.

Laverty said: ‘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.

‘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.

‘Having a team-mate like Marco Melandri is great, he has a wealth of experience to learn from so I'm going to enjoy riding with him.’

The deal concludes a busy period for Yamaha which began when reigning MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi announced he was joining Ducati for 2011.

That saw Ben Spies move into the factory MotoGP team alongside Jorge Lorenzo with Toseland's current team-mate Cal Crutchlow replacing Spies in the Tech 3 garage next year.

Yamaha announced earlier this week that Melandri would be replacing Crutchlow next season and Laverty now completes the Superbike factory team.

Team boss Laurens Klein said: ‘We have proved with Cal Crutchlow that we have the facility to bring young riders through from World Supersport, continue to nurture and develop them in World Superbike and provide them with further opportunities in MotoGP if the situation is right.

‘We look forward to working with Eugene and believe he has the talent to continue through with Yamaha into the future.’

Toseland has had a poor season back in Superbikes this year after two years with the Tech 3 team in MotoGP.

The Yorkshireman has yet to announce where he will race in 2011 but has been strongly linked with a move back to the Ten Kate Honda team, where he won the second of his world titles in 2007.