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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

On Eve of Final Pre-Season Test, Yamaha MotoGP Team Struggles With Familiar Issues

Last year, the Yamaha MotoGP Team struggled with inconsistency. Moving from one track with good traction and tire life, the very next race would sometimes be a disaster. Yamaha and its two fabulously talented riders, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales, never really found an answer.

The same inconsistency is playing out in pre-season testing for 2018, which concludes with the final test at the Losail circuit beginning tomorrow. Yamaha’s MotoGP team manager Massimo Meregalli, described the situation in an interview posted on the website. It is an interview worth reading, but here are a couple of highlights.

Meregalli noted that Rossi and Viñales generally went well at the Sepang test that preceded the more recent test at Buriram, Thailand. In part, he stated: “In Malaysia we were able to perform well even with used tyres but in Buriram we had a lot of trouble with the tyres. It was a problem that many had, but we seemed to suffer more.” He concluded that the Movistar Yamaha Team bikes “have a more restricted range of tyre compared to our rivals.” In other words, rival bikes from Honda, Ducati and others have a larger set-up window in which they can make the Michelin tires work.

This sounds much the same as last year’s problem. At the same time, also like last year to some extent, Johann Zarco, aboard a satellite Yamaha M1 utilizing a 2016 chassis, has found more consistency and speed than the factory riders, particularly at Buriram. Meregalli struggles to explain this circumstance in the interview, and notes that Rossi and Viñales are headed down different development paths to address the problem.

It will be interesting to see whether Zarco consistently finishes ahead of the Factory riders this year with his arguably more conservative approach (i.e., stick with what works). Stay tuned for MD reports on the Losail test.

See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. VLJ says:

    As fast he is, I still wouldn’t bet on Zarco finishing higher in the points than the factory Yamaha riders.

  2. mickey says:

    At that level each little change in tires, chassis, suspension, motor, aerodynamics, brings with it a whole new set of problems in one or some of the other areas. Hope they get it figured out.

    Zarco on the 16 M1 may be faster this year or at least more consistent than the other factory Yamaha riders on the 17/18, but not sure how he will fare against new and improved from Honda, Ducati and Suzuki

    • Pacer says:

      You bring up a good point. In the last 3 years they changed the tire, electronics, and areo. If you are off on one then the others will be compromised. Atleast they can keep going back to the 16 as a solid platform to start from.

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