So Yamaha have brought their seamless gearbox to Misano. Being of a mind not just to blindly believe what Yamaha say they are doing, I naturally spent all of MotoGP FP1 on pit wall, watching the bikes come out of the 2nd gear final corner, and recording the sound of the gear changes to measure the gaps and estimate the length of time spent changing gears.

Without even looking at the numbers, you could tell the difference: the gear changes of both Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were audibly quicker, taking place without the usual bang of exploding fuel as the quickshifter cuts ignition.

The difference was clear even when they were riding on their own, but when Bradley Smith and Cal Crutchlow went past shortly afterwards, the difference between the factory and the satellite machines was stunning. Where a large gap and small explosion could be heard when the Tech 3 bikes changed gear, the factory machines sounded smooth, revs dropping but continuing to drive, well, seamlessly.

You didn’t even need to hear the noise: just watching the bikes come out of the final corner gave you enough visual clues to see the bikes were using the seamless gearbox. The factory Yamahas were smoother, with less wheelie, and no movement of the rear when the gears were changed. This was clearly a seamless transmission Yamaha were using.

Crunching the numbers, it looks like this isn’t the quite the same version of the seamless transmission tested at Brno back at the beginning of August. Based on footage collected at the trackside back then, gear shifts were taking on average 0.016 seconds.

A quick sample of the sound clips taken this morning reveals shifts have gotten faster, the average coming in at 0.011 seconds, with most hitting 0.010 or thereabouts.

That is just two thousandths off the speed of the Hondas, which where coming in at 0.009 at the Jerez test before the start of the season. Yamaha may have delayed the introduction of their (ludicrously expensive, like Honda’s) seamless gearbox, but it is well worth the wait. Yamaha have done it right.

Both Rossi and Lorenzo were delighted with the gearbox after practice, Lorenzo telling the press he was ‘very, very happy’ with it, and Rossi echoing those sentiments. Lorenzo once again reiterated that in a straight line, acceleration and upshifts were like riding a scooter. Rossi corroborated that, saying that although the gearbox would probably not help on a single fast lap time, it was much less demanding to ride overall.

“I think is not a big improvement about lap time, about the top performance for one lap, but it is more stable in acceleration and the ride is less demanding. You can concentrate more on the line and try to take the bike more to the limit,” Rossi said. “The bike is more easy to ride, and in acceleration, you can put the bike more precisely where you want for the next corner,” he added.

Was the plan to use the gearbox for the rest of the weekend? “The plan now is to use the gearbox for always. Or until a better one comes along!” Rossi said.

What was notable was not just the positive reception the gearbox got from the factory Yamaha riders, but also the effect it appeared to have on their demeanor. Though Jorge Lorenzo was clearly happy, he denied it was an extra motivation. “I am always 100% motivated,” Lorenzo said, so it was hard to be more.

But Valentino Rossi seemed positively energized. The Italian was closer to the front than he has been for several races, and was obviously raring to go. Having the new gearbox at his home race (the Misano circuit is almost in his back yard) added an extra motivation to the Italian, allowing him to grab 3rd spot in FP2, finishing ahead of his teammate for the first time in a long time.

He feels he can compete, and it shows in both his body language, and on the timesheets.

Has the appearance of Yamaha’s seamless gearbox effected their rivals, the Repsol Honda men? Both Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa denied it. He was not worried about Yamaha’s seamless gearbox, Marquez affirmed, before enquiring fervently whether Yamaha had actually used it.

The effect it had on their mental state may be questionable, it certainly did not slow either Marquez or Pedrosa down. Marquez dominated the morning session, then topped the afternoon session as well, though teammate Pedrosa got to with a few hundredths of his best time.

Marquez was clearly back to full strength, the Spaniard insisting that his shoulder was almost 100%, and that it certainly wasn’t going to be an excuse this weekend. His approach to the race certainly seemed to suggest he would not be needing any excuses, going out and trying to dominate from the start. That approach had drawn some mild criticism from the man he replaced at Repsol Honda.

In a recent interview with the Italian magazine Motosprint, Casey Stoner said he felt Marquez was not paying sufficient respect to his rivals. “Sometimes it looks like he is trying to humiliate them,” Stoner told Motosprint. The irony of Stoner making such a statement is not lost on those who remember the Australian going out and doing exactly the same thing.

Yamaha are not the only team to have brought something new to Misano. Ducati are also present, this time with a brand new exhaust system. Designed and built by Akrapovic, the new exhaust is markedly different from the former, Termignoni-branded item.

The new exhaust was quieter, and featured a smaller internal diameter. Weight distribution had been improved, although both Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso denied they noticed much difference in handling.

The biggest difference was in the noise, especially on closed throttle entering corners. Some places, Dovizioso explained, the noise was so loud it made it hard to concentrate, making it physically more difficult to ride the bike purely because of the vicious and deafening rasp from behind.

The narrower pipe diameter should also help the driveability of the Ducati. More midrange and less focus on top end should be good for the Ducati. But it is clearly not the magic bullet Ducati riders dream of. It is, once again, a small step in the right direction, making the bike a little bit easier to ride.

The gap is still huge, as laid out by Andrea Dovizioso. His aim was to have a race pace under 1’35 a lap, he said. The problem was that race pace for the front men looks like being under 1’34 a lap, a second or more close. There is still a lot to do.

Finally, the FIM today announced the sanction imposed on Dani Rivas, who caused a crash at Silverstone by spending his time arguing with another rider, and not looking where he was going. He crashed into the back of Steven Odendaal, breaking bones in the South African’s foot.

Rivas will be forced to sit out two full races in addition to Misano, which he is missing due to the injury he suffered in the crash. Rivas’ two-race ban will take effect from the next race at Aragon, and will see him miss Sepang as well.

Rivas’ two-race suspension gave much pause for thought. Two years ago, at Phillip Island in 2011, in a similar incident, Marc Marquez had rammed into the back of Ratthapark Wilairot at high speed, as Wilairot was cruising around the track after the flag had been waved to signal the end of the session.

Marquez knew he was no longer on a hot race track, with riders focused on setting the fastest time possible, yet he continued to lap at very high speed, as he had been asked to by his team.

Marquez, however, was penalized by having a minute added to his qualifying time, putting the Spaniard on the back of the grid. Rivas, for a similarly dangerous violation of the rules of behavior after the end of a session, was handed down a two-race ban.

When confronted with the discrepancy, Marquez was at pains to point out that he believed the two incidents were not the same. “I think it was a little bit different,” Marquez said. “On the lap in Australia, yes I was fast, but also Wilairot was so slow on the line, was with first gear.”

“So it was my mistake, but it was also his mistake, because OK, it is the finish lap, but you cannot go with first gear round all the circuit. And Dani Rivas was completely different. You know that there they practice the start, and he was talking with another rider, so that is dangerous. In the end, Race Direction take that decision, maybe one race was enough, but it was a dangerous moment for all the riders, because in the end he touched just two or three riders, but there were many riders there.”

While the decision reeks of class justice – it is easy to hand Dani Rivas, who plays no real role in the championship, a two-race ban, whereas punishing a championship contender would cause a lot more trouble, and create a lot more protest – the penalty imposed is also perhaps the sign of the new Race Direction signaling a change of direction.

The penalty on Rivas, as well as the penalty points for Marquez for his crash at Silverstone, caused when still pushing hard as yellow flags were being waved, look more like Mike Webb seizing the opportunity offered him by the new points system to make a point: dangerous riding simply will not be tolerated, unlike before.

The penalty on Marquez had been imposed under the former Race Director Paul Butler, who retired at the end of 2011. Mike Webb wants to take MotoGP in a slightly different direction, and looks to be imposing stiffer penalties. Despite that, some feel that Marquez deserved more of a punishment for his behavior at Silverstone.

The trouble is, it would be a very brave man who would impose a one-race ban on Marc Marquez, as the young Spaniard is widely regarded as the savior of MotoGP, and the darling of Dorna and the Spanish media and fans. And with Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta’s right hand man Javier Alonso also part of Race Direction, pushing through tougher penalties may be tougher than it seems.

We shall see how this story develops over the next few months.

Photo: Yamaha Racing

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • TexusTim

    clearly dave you have an issue with marquez….you just gonna keep at it till what someone listens to you and hands him down somthing that makes it harder for him mto win the championship this year…cllearly you dont think the silverstone thing was enough as this is the seconnd report in a row taking a shot at him…I dont like this and dont understand why your doing this…if he was all over the place this year I could see it……and this whole thing about comparing him to stoner…no were near the same type of pearson…I dont think stoner has anything for this kid…it may be why he really retired …if not stop all the bullcrap and either get back in or shut up !

  • BBQdog

    @TexusTim: in the past, especially Moto2, Marquez did very stupid and dangerous thinks and got away with it most of the time. Probably because he is spanish. Numerous outbraking manoeuvres while leaving no room for his opponent. Starting from the back of a field and miraculous plowing through it with a bike which should have the same amount of horsepower like the rest of the field. Do you believe in miracles ? I don’t. Marquez has been pushed and pushed, rookie rules are changed just for him. I don’t know why. Are they afraid that when Rossi leaves there will be no ‘anchorman’ ??

  • B-Ry

    Only time ever that I’ve heard of someone complaining that a termi system is too loud on a Ducati ;)

  • Norm G.

    re: ““I am always 100% motivated,” Lorenzo said”

    no worries jay, awestruck, the world watched Silverstone.

  • Norm G.

    re: “Marquez has been pushed and pushed, rookie rules are changed just for him. I don’t know why.”

    you’ve already answered this question.

    re: “Probably because he is spanish.”


  • Norm G.

    re: ” Do you believe in miracles ?”

    sorry this was always going to happen… :)

  • SBPilot

    Loud exhausts are in fact incredibly annoying for some racers, including myself.
    When the bikes went back to 1000, Rossi also requested Yamaha to put a silencer on the M1 because it’s just too noisy and distracting. Noise fatigues the mind. I can’t stand loud exhausts on my track/race bikes, unfortunately most “race” exhausts are annoying loud.

    Marquez treatment – debatable. Rivas crashing into a fully stopped rider is quite dangerous because the sudden forces of a moving object into a totally static one is very severe. If you watch the video from the spectator, if you pause at when Rivas contacts Odendaal, his whole body arches like this ( before snapping forward again. Plus, Rivas crashed solely because he was angry at someone and making gestures, taking his eyes off the road.

    Marquez crashing is also not excusable, however, he was told to by his team to continue a flying lap, therefore, the team should take more responsibility, like a big fine, rather than Marquez alone. Secondly, Marquez hit Wilairot but at the very least Marquez was trying to stop himself from hitting him, plus Wilairot was moving so the end result was not nearly as bad for the the riders.

    I’m not making excuses for Marquez, I feel last year his penalty for him as a rider was enough, but the team should have been penalized quite a bit. Also, Race Direction will look at all aspects of each incident, including the outcome. Rivas caused some serious injuries to riders and he clipped and crashed into multiple riders, not just one, for a much more immature and irrational reason than why Marquez crashed. Rivas, due to his own fault being hot headed, Marquez due to team orders. Very, very different.

  • TheSwede


    Why does Dave’s reporting irk you so? He’s a writer, and writers tend to write about things they think need to be discussed.. As for Marquez, if not for the spotters on track at Silverstone, a volunteer marshall (just someone who loves the sport like you and me) could have been KILLED by Marc’s bike, crushed between it and Crutchlow’s. All because he wasn’t paying attention, not doing his job and keeping an eye out for the flags. And for that he’s docked two points? No, that’s not ok, not with his history. They should’ve sent him to the back of the grid at least.

  • TheSwede


    re: “I dont like this and dont understand why your doing this…”

    Methinks you’re taking his reporting a bit too personally dude..

  • FafPaku

    Dear Stoner,
    Sorry I’m toppling your pole/lap records and erasing your name from the history books. I’ll be sure to be “more respectful” to my rivals for the rest of the season and slow down a little.


    It was very amusing when Marq was asked by a journalist what he thought about Stoner’s comment about respect, during the post qualifying conference, to which Marq responded “Who?”. Maybe he didnt hear the question the first time around…or maybe it was a jib. Only Marq will know.

  • TheSwede

    Re: It was very amusing when Marq was asked by a journalist what he thought about Stoner’s comment about respect, during the post qualifying conference, to which Marq responded “Who?”

    I loved and miss Stoner, but if that was on purpose its damn funny :D

  • L2C

    Clear favoritism towards Márquez. No question about it.

  • Faust

    So let me get this straight, a guy (Stoner) who thinks its okay to actually strike another rider on track (De Puniet) has the nerve to criticize Marquez? What a joke. Want to talk about not being respectful? How about telling a 9 time champ his ambition outweighs his talent while he’s trying to apologize to you? I miss watching Stoner ride, but I definitely don’t miss his sense of entitlement and whiny comments. You’ve got riders this year riding with broken bones and dislocated shoulders and a guy who decided not to defend his title because he’s lactose intolerant wants to criticize from the sidelines? Give me a freakin break. Oh and what did Stoner get for striking Randy? A small fine. Special treatment indeed.

  • N/A

    Dude, you can’t talk about a new Ducati exhaust and not show pictures of it!

  • L2C

    Yeah, Faust. Nothing wrong with what you said. Total agreement here.

  • L2C


    But I understand what Stoner meant. Week in and week out, Márquez does play this little deceiving game of pretending not to expect much of himself. It really is a tactic to humiliate his rivals. He continually says that he didn’t expect this result or that result. He always *acts* so surprised – and I’ve never bought the performance. It has come across to me as less than genuine from the very beginning.

    It’s like he sets up his opponents to appear as failures no matter what their results might be.

    I wrote a piece about this weeks ago and decided not to post it because I couldn’t be bothered to clean it up. It was mostly just to explain something to myself. To understand why I felt the way I did about Marc’s behavior. Besides, it doesn’t matter.

  • kev71

    I thought once Stoner retired I wouldn’t have to read or hear his opinion on anything to do with MotoGP. You’re RETIRED, shut the hell up! I’m sure Crutchlow would be bitching about not having the seamless gearbox and if he had it he would be running top 3, just like the whole gas tank fiasco… Since his signing with Ducati he hasn’t done squat!

  • FafPak


    I hear you, but he wouldn’t be the first rookie to play mind games/deflect the media spotlight. Rossi himself was a maestro at playing that game. Jorge played it differently by being arrogant and a copy cat when he started out too. The veterans should know better at what Marq is playing at (the “I may be the new kid on the block but because Im just as good Im gonna get under your skin as well” game) because they’ve seen it before and thus shouldn’t let it get to them.

  • FafPak


    The irony of it all is that Stoner is now fueling, from the side lines, the media machina he so vehemently despised and decided to distance himself from by quitting MotoGP.

  • Could we please stop mentioning Stoner he no longer races in MotoGP therefore no one cares what he has to say. Suit up or shut up and finally a picture of the GP13 exhaust would be nice..

  • Norm G.

    re: “unfortunately most “race” exhausts are annoying loud.”

    don’t mind loud. what I do mind are exhausts that are loud and sound like crap. if the note/frequency is pleasant…? the louder the better.

  • Fcukoff

    LOL! A lot of tough BS talk from a ton of noob scrubs on this site who can’t even trace a mountain bike well. Haha LOSER Punk azzes!!!

  • Grant Madden

    Mike Webb will sort them out.He’s a brave guy and I don’t think he will take it “Easy” on anyone,champ or not.You act like a dork and he’ll kick your arse as he should.