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Yamaha MotoGP Race Effort Jeopardized by Engine Failures

Yamaha might appear to be in the driver’s seat with regard to this year’s shortened MotoGP series with Fabio Quartario having a perfect 50 points after two rounds, and Maverick Viñales 40 points with two second place finishes. There is, however, a big concern lurking with regard to the engine allocation available to each rider.

This year, MotoGP teams without concessions (Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki) are allowed to use five engines per rider. These engines are sealed, and must last the entire 13-round series this year. Each of these four teams has opened just two engines per rider (which would be normal early in the series), except for Yamaha.

We understand that Yamaha has already retired three engines (one each from the allocation to Viñales, Rossi and Morbidelli), and sent them back to Japan for analysis. Each of these engines, somewhat mysteriously, quit during a practice session or a race. Each of the engines has simply shut down rather than catastrophically fail, so a sensor problem is expected.

In addition to the three engines sent to Japan, the race teams are hanging on to other engines that needed replacement for similar reasons. These engines could possibly be fixed without breaking the engine seal, depending on what the Japanese analysis indicates. Four of the available five engines have already been put into use by Quartararo, Rossi and Morbidelli. Viñales has already been using his fifth engine from the allocation. Not good, given the 11 races remaining.

If Yamaha is not allowed to fix this problem, which would require it to show the problem is safety-related, and to obtain unanimous consent of the other race manufacturers, the rider penalties are quite horrendous. The penalty for a rider using a new engine beyond the allocated five is a pit-lane start, five seconds after the green light. Far, far worse than qualifying last. MD will watch this story as it develops, and update our readers.


  1. Yamaha engines are popping not only here, but WSBK as well.
    I know , two totally different engines but probably out of the same race shop back home.

  2. LIM says:

    The price to pay for squeezing more power from the M1?

  3. Dave says:

    It was running so good before it quit

  4. dt-175 says:

    is it one pit lane start per engine? every new engine forces a pit lane start? what if ya chew up an (extra) engine on Friday and then one on Saturday? 93 is not out of this yet…

    • Jeremy says:

      I understand that the penalty is repeated for each engine taken above the allocation. So if Vinales for example needed a fresh 6th and 7th engine during a race weekend, he’d have to start from pit lane for two races.

  5. mickey says:

    yep, not good for the tuning fork company, especially this year.

    If they need unanimous agreement from the other manufacturers, I just can’t envision Ducati saying “Oh, OK”.

    • Jeremy says:

      Haha, no kidding. What’s worse is that the engine is locked until the end of the 2021 season if I’m not mistaken.

      • Dave says:

        Depends on what it turns out to be. They think sensor related. If they don’t have to break the seals then I think it’s fair game, if they can figure it out. Pretty bizarre, eh?

        • Jeremy says:

          Even if they don’t have to break the seals which keeps them out of trouble with the allocation, wouldn’t they still need blessing of the the other manufacturers in the commission to make changes?

          • mickey says:

            Unless Dorna’s safety committee determines it’s a safety hazard to the other riders.

          • Dave says:

            I don’t know how that works out, where the line between maintenance / repair and change is.

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