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Yamaha Mounts Serious WSB Effort for 2016; Is It Time for Kawasaki to Return to MotoGP?

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Partnering with Crescent Racing, Yamaha will mount a serious factory WSB effort next year with the experienced former champion Sylvain Guintoli, and former British Superbike champ Alex Lowes. The last time Yamaha took its new R1 into WSB, it won the championship with Ben Spies aboard in 2009.

We find it interesting that Yamaha, arguably, will have the highest profile roadracing endeavor among major manufacturers beginning next year. Now that Suzuki and Aprilia have MotoGP teams, one has to wonder whether Kawasaki will do the same in the near future, particularly now that it is doing so well at the WSB level. Kawasaki is launching a redesigned ZX-10R for 2016.

Here is the full press release from Yamaha:

Yamaha Motor Europe will make its official return to the World Superbike Championship in 2016 in collaboration with highly experienced partner Crescent Racing and title sponsors PATA. The team will place the new YZF-R1 in the talented hands of 2014 World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli and 2013 British Superbike Champion Alex Lowes.

PATA has a proven track record and passion for motorsport with a high profile presence in World Superbike, making them a perfect complement to the partnership of Yamaha and Crescent Racing in 2016.

Frenchman Guintoli has over 15 years experience in racing, with 45 podiums, 10 race wins and, of course, the 2014 world title to his credit – in classes spanning 250cc, MotoGP, British Superbike and World Superbike. While young British rider Lowes took 20 podiums, 8 wins and 6 pole positions on his way to his 2013 British Superbike title. He has also competed with Crescent for the last two seasons so is no stranger to the team or the WSBK series.

Returning to the World Superbike stage for the first time since 2011, Yamaha Motor Europe’s strategy is clear – to make full use of the all-new YZF-R1 to challenge for victory in the premier production Superbike series. Yamaha’s impressive history in the Championship, combined with the stunning base specification of the YZF-R1, offers an unrivalled opportunity to campaign for victory honours.

2009 saw Yamaha take their first World Superbike Championship title, breaking multiple records throughout the season with American rider Ben Spies on board. Iconic riders such as Noriyuki Haga, Troy Corser, James Toseland, Marco Melandri and Cal Crutchlow, among others, have all taken their turns delivering countless victories on the YZF-R1 throughout Yamaha’s Superbike career.

Crescent will partner Yamaha as their fully-supported Official WSBK Team from 2016. Crescent is the World Superbike Championship’s only UK-based team and has a 20-year racing history at both national and global level that features victories in the British Superbike Championship, World Superbike and MotoGP.

Yamaha Motor Europe will retain responsibility over racing strategy and technical development, as well as the rider agreements with Crescent’s hugely experienced, dedicated, technical and engineering racing personnel running the team’s operation at each of the Championship rounds.

The all-new Yamaha YZF-R1 arrived as a game changer in 2015, re-writing the rulebook for the Supersport market as the next generation of racing machine. As the 2015 racing season draws to a close it can already claim numerous victories – including the inaugural Road America AMA Championship and the legendary Suzuka 8Hr Endurance race in the hands of MotoGP stars Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith and five-time All Japan Superbike Champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga. In the UK the R1 is in contention for the British Superbike Championship title, while across Europe the story continues with both the Polish Superbike Championship and the French Superstock Championship secured. Yamaha also currently leads the Spanish FIM CEV Repsol International Championship and last weekend claimed second overall in the FIM Endurance World Championship in the hands of France’s GMT94 Yamaha team.

“This is a very exciting moment for us as we eagerly wait to return to the top level of Superbike competition next year after an absence of four years,” commented Yamaha Motor Europe Chief Operating Officer, Eric De Seynes.

“Having re-written the Supersport rule book and changed the game with the new YZF-R1, directly developed from Yamaha MotoGP technology, it was clear we would need to return to the World Superbike Championship to show the full potential of our new Superbike machine. We took one year to grow experience with the new R1 in many other championships where the bike has shown its potential already, with the amazing 8H of Suzuka victory and the very positive results that our official Teams are gathering all around Europe. Now we are ready to be back on the world stage and I am happy we have found in Crescent the same values of professionalism, engineering detail and passion for victory we share.”

14 Comments

  1. Balraj says:

    addition of BMW & Kawasaki to Moto GP will spice up the event more

  2. Gutterslob says:

    Paintjob shmaintjob!! The bigger question is – how are they going to go about “fauxing” those bubble headlights? That’s the thing I hate most on the street bike (you’d have thought some aftermarket shopd would introduce some “hidden” light replacements by now). They gonna fit cardboard and paste light stickers on it or what? Seriously, that faux lighting rule in WSB needs to go.

  3. Jeckyll says:

    It’s amazing that all the comments seem to be paint related.

    I’m glad Yamaha is back. I think a championship that more closely resembles bikes that are actually sold to consumers is a great thing and having a major manufacturer mission is a shame.

    MotoGP is a very different thing. Unless you have an ‘alien’ on a very finely tuned machine, you have no chance of winning the championship. For a smaller manufacturer (compared to Honda and Yamaha) I’m not sure the impetus is there to join GP. After all, Kawi wasn’t exactly making huge strides in GP when they were participating.

    So, given limited resources, why would they split their effort amongst two championships, potentially pulling resources from a very successful WSB effort?

    We’ve certainly seen that success in GP doesn’t guarantee success in WSB or vice versa.

    I think Kawi should continue to drive hard at winning another WSB championship in the next few years and then see where the economic climate is. With a new 10R next year, who knows how log it will take for the riders to come to grips with it. It certainly has taken some time in the past.

    As for Yamaha, with the right riders they could really shake things up in WSB. And the combination of Guintoli and Lowes brings both experience and steady – champion ship winning approaches and youth to the team.

    Finally, they can paint the bike hot pink for all I care, as long as we have some hotly contested races in WSB. 🙂

    • Tommy D says:

      I agree. The big news is that Yamaha is going back into WSB with a top machine. BMW tried and and found it not too easy.

      For those that want to reminisce about color it was red and white in the WSB with Scott Russel and Noriyuki Haga.

  4. notarollingroadblock says:

    I’m gonna show my support by buying my daughter a Yamaha…………saxaphone. It revs her heart!

  5. mickey says:

    The blue and white looks like a street bike. The yellow and black looks like a race bike

  6. Trpldog says:

    Bumblebee looked good with Kenny aboard cleaning house in Motogp. Looks too simplistic and dated for me now. But – let every man bee fully convinced in his own mind.

  7. Jabe says:

    The “bumblebee” paint job looks better.

    • Scott says:

      Except , when the bike shows up on the grid next year it’s going to have the white & red PATA colors on it. So much for beauty… 🙁

  8. Jeremy in TX says:

    Now how can anyone looking at that say the bumblebee paint job looks better?

    It will be interesting to see Yamaha put some real effort into WSB.

    • xLaYN says:

      +1 that blue is lovely.
      what if maybe Kawasaki doesn’t need to return to gp? I mean, they are going to spend what? 7, 8 figure numbers to end up behind Honda and Yamaha? I see the H2 and R as better “promotional” products.

      • Hot Dog says:

        Ah, you guys have your heads buried in the sand, the Bumble Bee’s the one!

        Finally, Yamaha is back in WSB. I’m going to have to order the WSB package along with the MOTO GP package.

    • TF says:

      The bumblebee paint job looks better on a ’79 OW40.