MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Is Yamaha’s sun rising again?
Rossi and Viñales scored their best result in a year in Thailand – so will they be even faster in Japan this weekend?
You know things are bad when a factory that once took winning for granted celebrates a third- and fourth-place finish as a ‘return to form’. That’s exactly how the Movistar Yamaha team reacted to its so-close-but-so-far result at Buriram.
Maverick Viñales finished less than three tenths of a second behind winner Marc Márquez, with Valentino Rossi just 1.2 seconds further back after very nearly ramming his team-mate at the final corner.
Remarkably, this was the closest both factory Yamahas had been to winning a race since Phillip Island, this time last year.
So was Buriram a freak result, or will Yamaha continue its return to form under the burning glare of factory bosses at Motegi this weekend?
Rossi tried to answer that question in Thailand and his prognosis was far from positive.
“I hope with all my heart that we can be strong at other tracks but unfortunately I think we are fast here because of the tyres and the track,” he said. “Now we will try at Motegi to understand if we are better, or if was just the track.”
This sounded like Rossi at his political best – he almost certainly already knew the answer to the question but was far too clever to answer it himself. One day he could make an excellent president of Italy.
But why was Yamaha so strong at Buriram after being so weak for so long?
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.