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