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.
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.
The news is a bit obvious, but Lin Jarvis, the Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, has confirmed that the factory MotoGP squad intends to retain the services of Jorge Lorenzo, and bring Ben Spies into the squad for the 2011 season.
The news comes on the heels of Valentino Rossi’s decision to move to Ducati for next season, and has been assumed to be a done deal once Rossi’s announcement was made public. This is however the first time that anyone at Yamaha has spoken about the team structure for next year in such a direct tone, likely because of the need to keep Rossi’s departure under wraps.
It didn’t take long after Valentino Rossi’s highside for the speculation to begin as to whom will replace the Italian rider at Fiat-Yamaha, but as MotoMatters is reporting, the MotoGP team is in no rush to replace Rossi on their roster. For the next two races, Fiat-Yamaha will campaign only one bike on the MotoGP grid, leaving Rossi’s bike untouched as a sign of respect to the Champion rider.
As a special promotion for MotoGP’s stop at Laguna Seca, the Fiat-Yamaha team will plant a lucky race fan’s face on the Yamaha YZR-M1’s of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. The “Get on the Bike” program officially starts June 1st, and will require fans to upload a picture of their face to the Fiat-Yamaha website.
Mike Werner at Bikes in the Fast Lane got a look at the prospective placement on the YZR-M1 while he was at the French GP as a guest of Fiat-Yamaha, and he reports that the placement is an “ideal spot”.
The winner of the Get on the Bike contest will be announced July 25th, good luck to everyone.
Source: Bikes in the Fast Lane
With the announcement that MotoGP would “allow up to” a 1000cc format in 2012, there was a hinting that manufacturers would be allowed to use their current 800cc machines in the coming years. The provision comes from the concern that another switch in engine rules will mean another financial blow to the teams that have already spent so much time developing their 800cc race bikes. We’ll skip the economic dissertation on what a sunk cost is, and go straight into the news that Yamaha will reportedly not make the jump to 1000cc’s, and instead continue to use its 800cc M1 in 2012.
MotoGP teams have flocked to Sepang this week to test their bikes on the Malaysian track in preparation for the 2010 season. Fiat-Yamaha was on hand to unveil their 2010 YZR-M1, along with riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Despite Yamaha’s shuddering sales figures, there doesn’t seem to be too many drastic changes in the factory team’s camp, but perhaps the lack of change is indicative of Yamaha’s financial position.
Speaking at the unveiling, Managing Director for Yamaha Racing, Lin Jarvis said, “The MotoGP program is a very important brand image promotion activity and the racing requires us to demonstrate all of our company’s power in engineering, organizational and passion if we are to be successful at the top level. He continued with, “we are extremely fortunate to have retained all of our existing loyal sponsors and even to have added a few more to the team.” Enough of that, video and photos after the jump.