Following the Czech GP, Yamaha will debut its new 1,000cc formula MotoGP bike on the Monday. The first public outing of the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1, Yamaha factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will get their hands on the new machine, and see how it compares to the current 800cc M1. Also testing their 1,000cc bike on Monday is Honda, which will have factory riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa behind the handlebars of the 2012 Honda RC213V. Not testing the new RC213V is Andrea Dovizioso, who will be out of contract in 2012, and according to paddock gossip will be in one of the satellite Honda teams with factory support.
On Thursday at the US GP, a day before the general public and non-MotoGP press could get into Laguna Seca, Yamaha unveiled its 50th Anniversary team livery, with a special cadre of legendary Yamaha riders. Eddie Lawson, Kel Carruthers, Kenny Roberts Sr., and Wayne Rainey joined current Yamaha riders Ben Spies, Cal Crutchlow, Colin Edwards, Jorge Lorenzo in the pit lane of the famous American track to commemorate Yamaha’s half-century of motorcycle Grand Prix involvement. After the presentation, a scrum of journalists got a chance to talk to King Kenny about his experience riding the YZR-M1 around Laguna Seca, as Yamaha had built a special GP bike for the American GP Champion, though it did not have a full electronics package.
A&R also got to eavesdrop in on the conversation between Roberts, Edwards, Spies, and Crutchlow, as the foursome exchanged notes on how GP racing has progressed, and what riding the M1 was like coming from different disciplines outside of the usual GP career track. Perhaps most interesting in that discussion was how precise riding a MotoGP motorcycle has become, as the tires, electronics, and suspension all demand a very particular riding style, racing line, and motorcycle setup to achieve maximum performance.
Roberts lamented to the current GP riders because of the precision required, it was easy to run afoul of the M1. Saying in his day, a rider could be 10 feet off the ideal line, fight the bike through the corner, and finish the lap none the slower; but on the current MotoGP equipment, being 10cm off the line can mean seconds missing on the lap time because of how exacting the sport has become.
Helping commemorate its 50th Anniversary of World Championship Grand Prix racing, Yamaha has unveiled special race livery for its factory-backed MotoGP squad, which the team will run at the Assen TT and Laguna Seca Grand Prix. Set to be unveiled Wednesday, June 22nd at the Assen circuit by Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies, the Yamaha YZR-M1 WGP 50th Anniversary Edition motorcycles with their red color schemes are described by the Japanese company as paying “homage to the iconic Yamaha Factory Racing liveries of the past with a modern twist.”
Take that as you will, but the new race livery for the two races is a welcomed detraction from the reminder that the Yamaha squad has been unable to field a title sponsor for the 2011 MotoGP Championship season, despite having the 2010 Rookie of the Year Ben Spies and reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on-board the squad’s Yamaha YZR-M1 race bikes. Nonetheless, Yamaha has been celebrating its racing heritage with a special 50th Anniversary website, which is well-stocked with images of racing lore for the tuning fork brand.
Be sure to check out the full gallery of images on the Yamaha YZR-M1 WGP 50th Anniversary Edition motorcycle after the jump. We think it’s a looker.
For the 2012 season, MotoGP will be reverting back to its 1,000cc format (actually, it used to be 990cc, but what’s ten cubic centimeters among friends?). While many MotoGP fans have been awaiting the day that the “big bikes” would return to premier racing with their powersliding, rider chewing, wheelie popping ways, it’s hard to get excited when the first two races of the last 800cc season have been so eventful. Nevertheless the die has been cast, and this week should be begin our first glimpse into these two-wheeled monsters.
Here’s some Friday eye candy for you, courtesy of Morgan Driessen. When Morgan isn’t out working on his multiple degrees in graphic design (he graduated with honors we might add), he’s likely jumping over things on his trials bicycle (training to compete in the world championship on that as well).
Now in the unlikely situation where you would be unable to find Morgan doing either of those afore mentioned things, then well he’s probably day dreaming about two-stroke racers, and putting pen to pad on a motorcycle designs. Today finds us catching the young Mr. Driessen at the latter, as he has done up some splendid drawings of alternative paint jobs and sponsorships for the Honda RC212V (above) and Yamaha YZR-M1 (after the jump).
Along with the official unveiling of the 2011 Yamaha MotoGP team & livery, the Japanese manufacturer has also released photos of the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1, with accompanying technical specifications. Unsurprisingly, Yamaha is keeping many of its exact specifications close to the chest, but test reports indicate that a refined chassis, and a slightly more powerful motor have been added to the 2011 YZR-M1.
Yup, it’s official folks: Yamaha will run without a title sponsor for the 2011 MotoGP season (at least initially), as the team’s official race livery was unveiled at Sepang today (actually, we’re releasing these photos ahead of the official announcement, so in a way this post is coming from the future), along with the official unveiling of the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP race bike.
Trading a corporate sponsor for a “50th Year in Road Racing Championship Grand Prix” emblem, Yamaha has seemingly been unable to woo a title backer onto its carbon fiber fairings after Fiat’s departure, despite winning the team, rider, and manufacturer Championships in the 2010 season. Check out the full gallery after the jump.
Ben Spies made his factory debut today, taking to the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1 for the first time. Showing an impressive position as third fastest for the day’s testing time sheets, Spies clearly showed an aptitude for the new Yamaha, as did teammate Jorge Lorenzo who topped today’s charts. Spies used the 2010 spec tires from Bridgestone to get a base feeling for the new M1, while tomorrow he is expected to try the 2011 tires. Meanwhile Lorenzo spent his time divided between a modified 2010 chassis and the 2011 bike, as the Spaniard tested new Öhlins suspension and various setups.
“For the first day of testing I’m super happy with the team, a lot of things are new including obviously riding the prototype bike,” said Spies. “There are a lot of subtle changes from last year so I spent some time getting used to it along with working with a new Japanese engineer who is very, very good. I had a couple of new mechanics who were learning the ropes as well so it was a lot of learning today. I’m really happy, I can feel the potential of the bike and I think there’s quite a bit more to come.” More photos of Ben and some guy named Jorge after the jump.
We’ve got a special treat for you this Friday as Yamaha Racing has released a video that talks about the evolution of the YZR-M1 over the past seven seasons, which is narrated by The Doctor himself. Valentino Rossi and his team were integral to the success of Yamaha, turning what was considered to be the worst bike in the paddock into the star it is today. Giving a great account of each bike’s progress over the next, Rossi points out each model’s strengths and weaknesses, and what each M1 meant to him. Grab a beverage and enjoy the video after the jump.