Photos: 2003 Yamaha YZR-M1 Prototype

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It seems only fitting that after reviewing the BRD RedShift SM prototype, that we should turn our attentions to another prototype machine…or should we say, a prototype of a prototype. A glimpse into how lost in the woods Yamaha was with its MotoGP program pre-Rossi, the 2003 Yamaha YZR-M1 prototype is the work of a company desperately looking for a solution against Honda’s very potent RC211V. Employing two Öhlins rear shock absorbers, Yamaha’s philosophy and process of handling over power is very evident in this prototype’s design, though the implementation seems a bit murkier.

Laced with linear potentiometers through out the M1’s chassis, it is at least interesting to note the unit extending from one of the rear shock mounting points to the front of the frame — presumably measuring the flex of the chassis from front to back. With all the data acquisition that is on the 2003 prototype M1, you would think Yamaha would notice one of the most obvious mistakes with the design, namely how the exhaust routing was cramped in with both shock absorbers, surely cooking both units as the machine came up to temperature.

Yamaha would finally settle on a more traditional single-shock suspension setup for 2003, though the Yamaha YZR-M1 still proved to be a basket case on the track. It wasn’t until Valentino Rossi came to the tuning fork brand in 2004 that its MotoGP racing fortunes started to change at the Japanese company. Turning the M1 from zero to hero seemingly overnight in the off-season, Rossi’s pedigree for developing bikes secured, with more than a little help from Jeremy Burgess & Co. of course. Now facing the same challenge in this MotoGP off-season, these photos seem to have a new relevancy.

With the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 already showing itself to be as much of a mess, if not more so, than the 2003 Yamaha M1, Rossi, Burgess, and Ducati Corse have a large task in front of them the next few months. Similar to Yamaha’s desperation in trying two shock absorbers, Ducati Corse has made itself open to virtually any possible solution under the sun, having tried more chassis variations this season than this author cares to count. GP11, GP11.1, GP12, GP0, and all the variations in-between, it is anyone’s guess as to what sort of frame Ducati will arrive with at the season-opener in Qatar. We’re pretty sure that there will be only one shock absorber though…but never say never.

Source: Yamaha Racing via Racing Café