One of the advantages of not having a title sponsor is the freedom to use special liveries on your motorcycle as and when you see fit. Throughout the preseason, while Yamaha haggled over potential title sponsorship deals with companies such as Telefonica, Petronas and AirAsia, in the back of their minds, the Japanese factory knew that if they failed to secure a title sponsor, they would be able instead to use the season - and Jorge Lorenzo's #1 plate - to promote their own brand in their 50th anniversary year in world championship motorcycle racing.
And this is exactly what they have done. In addition to running their current bike in corporate (blue and white) colors throughout the year, Yamaha will be a special anniversary livery for the Assen and Laguna Seca rounds of MotoGP this year. The classic red-and-white livery is based on the colors the factory sported when they first entered the sport 50 years ago, and the colors used throughout Yamaha's years of successful racing in the 1970s and '80s.
The other classic Yamaha livery - the yellow-and-black bumblebee sported by Kenny Roberts in the '70s - will not be used at Laguna Seca, as it was back in 2006. For the bumblebee is Yamaha USA's corporate colors, rather than Yamaha Japan. For fans of the yellow-and-black livery - among which we number ourselves - there is still hope; the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix takes place at the end of August, so there is still time to announce the livery for that race.
Below is the official press release announcing the special livery, as well as hi-res photos of the livery, courtesy of Yamaha Racing:
Yamaha Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Grand Prix Racing in Red and White
2011 marks a very special moment in two wheeled motorsport as the 50th Anniversary of World Championship Grand Prix racing for Yamaha. As part of a series of ongoing activities to celebrate this landmark Yamaha Factory Racing will run a special livery, the ‘YZR-M1 WGP50th Anniversary Edition' for the Assen TT and Laguna Seca races.
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and 2010 Rookie of the Year Ben Spies will unveil the livery at a special event on Wednesday 22nd June close to the Assen circuit
The unique red and white livery design pays homage to the iconic Yamaha Factory Racing liveries of the past with a modern twist. The red and white livery will be used by Yamaha Factory Racing team riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies. The colours will also appear on all Yamaha staff and team crew as well as the Yamaha Factory Racing team's pit box.
A special 50th Anniversary logo is also being used this season. The logo is proudly displayed on the 2011 YZR-M1 fuel tank, on all Yamaha Factory Racing Team uniforms, within the pit garage of riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies and also on the Yamaha Factory Racing trucks.
The Yamaha World GP 50th Anniversary is also celebrated online with a special dedicated website www.yamaha-motor.co.jp/global/race/wgp-50th/ (English). The website features an impressive archive tracking the history of Yamaha's involvement with racing along with detailed historical information. Throughout the season the site will be regularly updated with columns and videos along with exclusive messages and interviews of key people involved in the World Championship Grand Prix racing story of Yamaha.