In a shocking statement made today, Yamaha has announced that it will be withdrawing its official presence from FIM Superbike World Championship at the conclusion of the 2011 season. After reviewing its marketing operations within Europe, Yamaha Motor Europe (the driving force behind the company’s WSBK effort) has decided its euros would be better spent on other events that directly engage potential Yamaha customers.

Yamaha says it remains committed to seeing Marco Melandri (3rd) and Eugene Laverty (4th) win the 2011 World Superbike Championship, though with four rounds remaining that would seem a tall order as Carlos Checa leads both Yamaha riders by 71 & 135 points respectively. Checa, of course, is on the “satellite” Althea Ducati team, which is rumored to have more links to Bologna than a sausage cook-off held in Ducati’s factory parking lot.

With companies realizing the ROI on motorcycle racing isn’t all its cracked up to be, manufacturers have been heavily reevaluating their positions in racing series from AMA, WSBK, and even MotoGP. At the end of the day, the fact remains that the old saying, “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” may not hold any water at all, bringing serious questions to bear on what motorcycle racing is bringing to its participants from a business perspective.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, involvement Yamaha has with World Superbike in 2012. Will the Japanese company sever all ties like Kawasaki did in MotoGP? Or will Yamaha take a page from Ducati’s book, and operate in an unofficial capacity with the remaining Yamaha squads? Only time will tell.

Source: Yamaha Racing

  • Victor Knowles

    That certainly sucks for Melandri. Bad move Yamaha……….
    Wish the economy could keep all the manufactuers in the game.

  • Shaitan

    WTF? So the old adage that “what wins the races sells on the sales floors” is a fallacy I guess.

  • Ken C.

    Melandri is a very talented rider and will be snatched up by another team pretty quickly, I’m sure. Laverty, although also talented, will have a slightly tougher time. Maybe Melandri could go back to MotoGP under one of the new claiming rules teams, or replace Toni Elias, who’s having a horrible season.

  • Jake Fox

    This is really saddening. The sport and ultimately the fans suffer the most from these decisions. Is it a question of popularity? NASCAR is very popular here and the manufacturers must see some kind of ROI even though those cars have absolutely nothing in common with the ones on the showroom floor. Meanwhile IRL, which isn’t nearly as popular, was down to only one engine supplier, Honda, the last I checked. Perhaps Yamaha feels that they can get as much exposure by racing in MotoGP as by racing in both MotoGP and WSBK.

  • SBPilot

    WSBK needs to act quick and fast to cut costs. The costs of running a factory WSBK team is becoming increasingly high, and WSBK lap times have been getting increasingly close to MotoGP. The bike’s don’t need to be that fast, costs need to come down. They should restrict the type of forks that are used because right now they are identical to the MotoGP Ohlins, and everyone runs them. It doesn’t give other manufactures like Ktech, Elka, Penske, Bitubo etc. any chance, which are MUCH cheaper options that GP Spec Ohlins forks.

    The previous post about WSBK wanting to cut down to one bike per rider is great and they need to enact that for next year asap before more teams drop out, or at least to secure privateer teams for next year. I’m sure the Flammini after hearing this news will try to do a drastic, hopefully logical cost cutting measure.

    Business is business, and it all boils down to Return On Investment, if the companies need to invest less and still have that entire WSBK exposure, ROI goes up. WSBK tech and speeds are at an all time high and they no need to go much faster, cut the tech development, get more bikes and riders on the grid and we’ll have a great series! My thoughts are, ban Carbon Fibre body work (like WSS), Spec electronics from either 2D or MM (or both), one bike rule.

    This is very sad news to see Yamaha, a top running team to withdraw. We can only hope it’ll be the same “type” of withdraw as Ducati.

  • Random

    Just hope the decrease in the popularity of racing doesn’t reflect in sports bike sales (if it hasn’t already). Liking those rides or not, it’s undeniable both prototype and production-derived racing has brougth many improvements to us “ungodly” riders. Imagine what we would be riding without all those racing developments…

  • albacete

    a bounch of pussies!

  • Westward

    I guess Ducati has set a trend, with Althea Racing and Checa looking to take the championship barring a major disaster. Liberty Ducati is not that far behind, They might just need slightly better pilots…

    I also find it interesting, that Yamaha seemed to lack a major sponsor for both MotoGP and WSBK. Could the loss of Rossi have had a spiralling affect on the overall outcome…?

  • Raymondo

    What’s the big deal?

    The Supersport team is private with factory support and is kicking ass.

    What would be different is WSBK? I’d rather see more privateer teams up front than having factories school the around. The bikes are still fast.

  • cyron


    I don’t think the one bike rule or limiting vendors is really the answer. Why not just put a cap on how much a team can spend instead of limiting what equipment they use.

    The reality of it is this isn’t the end of Yamaha’s motorcycles competing in WSBK; this is Yamaha no longer footing the entire bill.

  • SBPilot

    @ cyron

    A spending cap may work, you can’t really enforce that, but encourage it like in F1. Rules/restrictions helps and is necessary because as you said, factories don’t want to fork the entire bill anymore. So if WSBK’s future is like WSS/Superstock where there is no offiical Factory teams, then the rules/costs need to be attractive enough for privateers to be able to afford racing as they will be forking out most of the bill. I agree it may not be the end of Yamaha motorbikes in WSBK, they will still give support like their WSS bikes if in the future someone decides to use their R1, but the rules need to make it affordable for privateers to use those bikes/run the team.

    Would you rather Althea Ducati or Pata Aprilia have two riders on two competitive bikes, or one rider on one bike with a spare he may use? Most the time when riders are on their spare they don’t ride as well anyway. Cutting costs can enlarge grids and make racing closer, and this is especially important if factory teams begin leaving and privateers are the ones expected to fill the grids.

  • Dicj6F Interesting´┐Żshould I try those tips?

  • SBPilot

    WSBK has now comfirmed the one bike rule for next year! And already you have teams like SMR (Swan Yamaha in BSB) and ParkinGo wanting to join the WSBK. Whether that is on Yamaha’s or not is irrelevant, more bikes on the grid period.

    Seeing how competitive Hopper and Crescent Suzuki was at S’tone, I wouldn’t be surprised if other top-ish BSB teams are considering WSBK (HM Plant, MSS Colchester) WSBK could look mighty fun next year, here’s to hoping.