January 2020

Yamaha MotoGP Project Leader Takahiro Sumi On Where Yamaha Struggled In 2019, And How They Will Fix It In 2020

In 2019, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider Maverick Viñales won two MotoGP races - the Dutch TT at Assen and the Malaysian GP at Sepang - to finish third in the championship. His teammate, Valentino Rossi was seventh in the championship, with two second-place finishes: at the season opener at Qatar, and at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Meanwhile, Fabio Quartararo from the newly-formed team Petronas Yamaha SRT team put on an amazing rookie performance, with six pole positions and seven podiums, ending the season in fifth place in the championship. Teammate Franco Morbidelli crossed the finish line inside the top six on seven occasions and finished the season in tenth overall.

On Christmas day, we visited Iwata in Shizuoka prefecture to ask Yamaha Motor Company’s MotoGP Group GL (Group Leader) Takahiro Sumi about how their 2019 season had gone, what the objective for 2020 would be. First of all, Sumi-san gave Yamaha's perspective on the disappointing first half and the hopeful latter half of the season, before moving on to an exclusive interview.

Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi at the 2019 Misano MotoGP round

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 127: Evaluating Yamaha's Dynamite Week In MotoGP

It has been a wild week for Yamaha in MotoGP. On Tuesday, they announced that Maverick Viñales had signed a two-year contract extension to stay with the Monster Energy Yamaha squad for 2021-2022. They followed that up with announcements on Wednesday that Fabio Quartararo would be Maverick Viñales' teammate in the factory squad, and that Valentino Rossi had been given time to decide his future, and promised a factory bike, but not in the Monster Energy Yamaha factory team. And they finished the week off by announcing on Thursday that Jorge Lorenzo would be a test rider for Yamaha for the 2020 season.

That gave the Paddock Pass Podcast crew plenty to get their teeth into. Steve English, Neil Morrison, and David Emmett gathered to discuss what all this means for the future of Yamaha. What does it mean for the development direction of Yamaha? Will this allow them to finally beat Marc Marquez? What will Valentino Rossi decide to do, and how does this affect his decision to continue or retire? And does this bring a VR46 MotoGP team closer to reality?

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Your Questions Answered: What Do Yamaha's Big Announcements Mean For 2021 And Beyond?

After the carpet bombshelling done by Yamaha's press department over the past couple of days, it's time to answer your questions. In yesterday's piece looking at Yamaha's choice of Fabio Quartararo over Valentino Rossi, I promised to answer questions for MotoMatters.com subscribers. So below, here are the answers to some of the questions you asked.

Questions answered include:

  • Franco Morbidelli and Pecco Bagnaia
  • Valentino Rossi – one-man team, two-man VR46 team, or Petronas Yamaha?
  • What happens to Andrea Dovizioso?
  • The likelihood of rider retirements
  • Suzuki, Gresini, Aprilia, and a Suzuki satellite team
  • The chances of Yamaha building a V4
  • Will Repsol leave Honda?

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Jorge Lorenzo Confirmed As Yamaha MotoGP Test Rider For 2020

Yamaha's media onslaught - and their assault on the MotoGP title - continues, with the Japanese factory signing Jorge Lorenzo as a test rider for the 2020 season, as we suggested they might yesterday. Lorenzo is to start immediately, taking part in the shakedown test at Sepang, and will continue his work testing in Europe for Yamaha, as well as taking part in the other official IRTA tests during the season.

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Quartararo In, Rossi Out: What This Means For Yamaha, And For The MotoGP Silly Season

After Tuesday's announcement that Yamaha had signed Maverick Viñales, the Japanese factory today issued two more press releases. In the first, they announced they had signed Fabio Quartararo to a two-year deal to race in the factory Monster Energy Yamaha team. In the second, they announced that Yamaha would be giving Valentino Rossi all the time he needed to make up his mind about his future.

In these notes:

  • What Yamaha's decision means for their future
  • Valentino Rossi's options for the future
  • Whether this brings a VR46 MotoGP team closer
  • Who the next hot property in MotoGP is
  • Which signings to expect next

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP and the secret life of asphalt

MotoGP teams are starting to take a lot more interest in the track surface. Mat Oxley explains why - along with the reason some riders use kerbs for traction control

It’s an old racing truism that the most important part of a racing motorcycle is its tyres. Why? Because the tyres are the interface between motorcycle and race track, so whatever engineers do to the engine, chassis and electronics is for nothing if it can’t be transferred to the track.

And yet it’s an often overlooked fact that the tyres are only 50 per cent of this interface; the other half being the race track itself. This is why engineers and riders are starting to think a lot more about how increased knowledge of the track surface can help them go faster.

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Maverick Viñales Signs Through 2022 With Yamaha - What Does It Mean For Yamaha And MotoGP Going Forward?

The first penny has dropped in the long march toward the 2021 MotoGP grid. Yamaha have announced that they have signed Maverick Viñales to a two-year deal, for the 2021 and 2022 season.

The move marks a clear decision, both on the part of Yamaha and the part of Viñales. The Spaniard had offers on the table from two other manufacturers, with Ducati especially keen to sign Viñales for 2021. But assurances given to Viñales about his role in developing the Yamaha M1 helped him make his decision. Viñales is to determine the future direction of Yamaha, based on the strength of his performance in the second half of 2020.

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Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: Making The Jump

Gordon Ritchie has covered World Superbikes for over a quarter of a century, and is widely regarded as the world's leading journalist on the series. MotoMatters.com is delighted to be hosting a monthly blog by Ritchie. The full blog will be available each month for MotoMatters.com subscribers. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here. This month's blog has been published for non-subscribers as well, as it addresses an important subject, and is in part a reply to an article by respected Spanish journalist Manuel Pecino. If you would like to read all of Gordo's columns in full, make sure you subscribe.

New season looming, same old story. Where are the indicators of new/young British talent coming from in the MotoGP entry list? Actually, in WorldSBK too, which is the point I would finally like to address.

Let me be clear that this column was going to be about something else entirely this month until a wander through the Twittersphere pointed my curiosity in the direction of old friends and colleagues, Mat Oxley and Manuel Pecino. Few racing journalists are as respected as these guys, each with decades of cutting-edge MotoGP scribing and insight behind them.

I was hooked even before I followed the link to read the pecinogp.com story asking – from a Spanish perspective and using Mat as their British conduit - where were the British riders going to come from now in the top MotoGP class?

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