YMR MD Lin Jarvis Interview: How Yamaha Changed Its Organization To Become Competitive Again, Part 1

It has been a tough few years for Yamaha in MotoGP. Since the switch to spec electronic software and Michelin tires, Yamaha have struggled to be competitive. In the first half of the current decade, from 2010-2014, Yamaha won 34 races. Between 2015-2019, that total dropped to 24 race victories.

The decline has been impossible to ignore, but it took some time to both register and to turn the ship around. The situation reached its nadir at the Red Bull Ring in Austria last year, the factory Yamahas qualifying in 11th and 14th, Valentino Rossi the first Yamaha to finish, 14 seconds behind the winner, Jorge Lorenzo. That Saturday, MotoGP project leader Kouji Tsuya stood up in front of the media and apologized for the factory team's poor qualifying, an unheard of move by a Japanese factory.

The 2018 season proved to be a catalyst. A string of underwhelming results, and little progress with the bike throughout the season prompted Yamaha to undertake a major shakeup behind the scenes. Personnel were replaced – Tsuya stood down as project leader, and was replaced by Takahiro Sumi – but the whole operation was examined and reorganized.

The objective was to get everyone inside Yamaha talking to each other again, to create open channels of communication between the race teams, the test teams, and the factory. To share information and ideas between groups, rather than retreating defensively behind departmental walls and shifting the blame onto others. It is one reason Yamaha has streamlined its MotoGP test team, to improve communication between the test team and the factory, and dispose of the different working methods between the European and Japanese test teams.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How Yamaha is digging itself out of the doldrums and reviving Valentino Rossi

After four years of struggle, Yamaha is closing the gap on its rivals. Its new MotoGP project leader Takahiro Sumi tells us how

Yamaha only won two races during 2019 but, inch by inch, the factory began to close the gap on Honda and Ducati.

The reasons were a better engine, improved electronics and less messing around with chassis set-up, especially so that Maverick Viñales could focus more on his riding. The arrival of remarkable rookie Fabio Quartararo also helped, by putting the proverbial rocket under Viñales and Valentino Rossi.

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Avintia Confirm Johann Zarco Signed For 2020 MotoGP Season

Johann Zarco has been confirmed as the final piece of the MotoGP puzzle. The Avintia Racing Team have announced that Zarco will be riding a Ducati Desmosedici GP19 for them in 2020. 

The press release brings to an end weeks of speculation about the future of the Frenchman. Rumors of a move to Ducati had first come at Valencia, then been fueled further by the news that Karel Abraham had been sacked by Avintia. Zarco then told French journalist Michel Turco that he would be racing for Avintia in an interview for the magazine Moto Revue last week. 

There had been some skepticism around the move, after Zarco had told reporters he only wanted to ride for a top team, and had described Avintia as 'not a top team'. But Ducati have offered extra support and guarantees to both Avintia and Zarco to make the agreement possible. 

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The Zarco Saga Nears Completion - An Avintia Seat Beckons

The Johann Zarco Saga appears to be drawing to a close. The long journey, which started when he announced he would be leaving KTM at the end of 2019, looks to have taken him to Ducati. In an interview for the French magazine Moto Revue, the Frenchman told journalist Michel Turco that he will be racing a Ducati Desmosedici GP19 with the Avintia Racing team in 2020.

Zarco's statements bring to a close a long and confusing chapter in MotoGP. Zarco was summarily dismissed from the Red Bull KTM team on full pay after the race in Misano, the Austrian manufacturer wanting rid of a disruptive factor in the factory team. After Thailand, it emerged that Zarco would be temporarily replacing Takaaki Nakagami in the LCR Honda team after Motegi, to allow the Japanese rider to recover from shoulder surgery in time for the 2020 MotoGP season.

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Realizing The Dream of Bringing MotoGP Back to Indonesia

Logo Mandalika International Street Circuit

It has been 22 years since the last time Indonesia held a motorcycle racing Grand Prix. The dream of watching riders in action burst again in 2015. Unfortunately, the meeting between Dorna Sports SL, the Government of Indonesia and Sentul Circuit ended in failure.

A year later, Alex Noerdin – at that time was South Sumatra Governor – visited Sepang during the Malaysian MotoGP to meet with Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. The two sides discussed about using the Jakabaring in Palembang, on South Sumatra, as the location of the race. However, that failed too.

Now, the country’s dream to host the prestigious racing event seems closer to reality. The Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) is currently building new circuit – it has apparently been in preparation since 2017 – in the Mandalika special economic zone, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).

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Grand Prix Commission Tweaks Testing Regulations Further

The Grand Prix Commission is working through the unintended consequences of the decision to restrict testing in all three Grand Prix classes. Those restrictions have been a positive aid in reducing costs, but have made it impossible to use riders not currently under contract unless their contracted riders are absent due to illness or injury.

Adding a further layer of complexity to this is the current state of the MotoGP rider's market: with everyone out of contract at the end of 2020, and a large crop of Moto2 riders looking to step up, the factories want to take a look at riders not currently on the MotoGP grid. In previous years, such rookies would be given a private test - that happened with Johann Zarco, Alex Marquez, and Brad Binder, to name a few. But with private testing now banned, that has become impossible. 

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why did MotoGP’s crash rate drop by almost a third in 2019?

No surprise that Johann Zarco was MotoGP’s biggest crasher last season. The revelation of the 2019 crash report is that the accident rate tumbled by 27 per cent

Regular readers of this blog will know I’m a big fan of MotoGP’s annual crash report. Not because I’m ghoulish, but because the crash statistics tell you more than just who’s crashed the most.

The numbers can indicate more than pain and suffering – they can tell you who is having the roughest time with their motorcycle and what’s happening with general development of bikes, tyres and riding technique.

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Podcast Recommendation: Rusty's Garage - Greg Rust Talks To Casey Stoner

Despite being retired now for seven seasons, Casey Stoner continues to fascinate MotoGP fans. Perhaps precisely because he did retire at the end of 2012, at the relatively tender age of 27. Stoner has never been keen on the media, but on rare occasions, grants a brief insight into what is going on in his world.

So it was a delight to discover that Stoner has spoken to Australian broadcaster and journalist Greg Rust, on his Rusty's Garage podcast. The conversation is in two parts, of around 40 minutes each. It spans the entirety of Stoner's career, from the very early beginnings in Australia, through the heights of MotoGP, to his retirement, racing in V8 Supercars, testing with Honda and Ducati, and his present life away from racing.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 124: Farewell Jorge Lorenzo, Hello MotoGP Testing

After the last MotoGP test of 2019, David Emmett sat down with Israeli TV commentator and journalist Tammy Gorali to discuss what turned out to be a rather tumultuous test at Jerez.

We kick off our discussion with what turned out to be the biggest story of the test, the news that Marc Marquez was to have surgery on his right shoulder, after having dislocated it a number of times during the 2019 season. We talk about how the news came out, and Tammy works out where Marquez picked up the injury originally.

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Jerez WorldSBK Test Friday Results: Rea Opens A Big Gap To The Yamahas

Jonathan Rea has made his intentions clear on the last day of testing for 2019 for the WorldSBK class, opening up an imposing gap over the rest of the field on his final run. The Kawasaki rider was just over a tenth off his own Superpole record at the Spanish track, but was nearly nine tenths faster than Loris Baz on the Ten Kate Yamaha on Friday, and over eight tenths faster than Toprak Razgatlioglu's second quickest time overall set on Thursday. Razgatlioglu was the only rider not to improve his best time on the second day of the test. 

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Jerez WorldSBK Test Friday 2pm Times: Van Der Mark Leads Kawasaki Duo

Michael van der Mark leads the way on the second day of the WorldSBK test at Jerez, the Pata Yamaha rider a fraction faster than the Kawasakis of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes. Toprak Razgatlioglu is fourth quickest on the second Yamaha, ahead of Scott Redding, the first of the Aruba.it Ducatis.

Moto2 refugee Andrea Locatelli is faster on the Yamaha R6 than Moto3 fugitive Philipp Oettl is on the Kawasaki ZX-6R, the pair over half a second quicker than the WorldSSP regulars.

Times at 2pm:

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Jerez WorldSBK Test Thursday Results: Rea Fastest, Yamahas Impress

Five-time champion Jonathan Rea continues to rule the roost in World Superbike championship. The Kawasaki rider topped the timesheets for much of the first day of the test in Jerez, ending the day as fastest, after spending Thursday working on race pace on used tires and on getting the most out of the engine of the Kawasaki ZX-10RR, to take on the might of the Ducati Panigale V4 R.

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Superbike Commission Moves To Preemptively Restrict Active Aerodynamics In WorldSBK

The launch of the Honda CBR1000RR-R has caused the Superbike Commission, the rule-making body for the WorldSBK series, to take preemptive action to restrict the use of active aerodynamics. In a press release today, announcing a series of rule changes for the 2020 season, the biggest change is putting limits in place on how dynamic aerodynamics can be used.

The new rules limit the amount of movement available for active, dynamic, or movable aerodynamic parts. Moving parts will be restricted to the range of motion used on the production bike, even if the parts allow greater freedom of movement.

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