Insight: Yamaha still lost despite Thailand resurgence
It seems Yamaha MotoGP pair Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales don’t trust the improvement shown by the beleaguered team in Thailand, as their M1 bike is exactly the same as it was before.
Leaving aside Jorge Lorenzo’s crash and his inability to race at the first in MotoGP's inaugural Thailand Grand Prix, the top story from last weekend has been Yamaha’s renaissance.
Under normal circumstances, that comeback would have been a positive sign for a brand facing one of the deepest crises in its history. But the statistics show Yamaha has gone 24 races without a premier class victory, and when you talk to the riders and engineers, it’s clear that confusion reigns.
There is a phrase in motorcycling which says that the worst thing that can ever happen to a rider is to be fast without knowing why. The case of the Iwata team is even more dramatic: the engineers don’t know exactly what is going on with the M1.
They don’t know how to fix the lack of traction Rossi and Vinales have been complaining about for the last year-and-a-half. But worse than that, no one in the team understands how Rossi was able to get close to pole position, or how Vinales finished third, less than three tenths behind the winner, Marc Marquez.
According to the riders, the M1 is practically the same bike they rode during recent rounds of the calendar, and when you ask them about this sudden change in performance, they just shrug.
“What doesn’t make any sense is that the bike has improved without us changing anything,” a voice of authority within the Yamaha garage explained to Motorsport.com.
In this context, the only thing different about the set-up this weekend in comparison to the previous race was the rear tyre carcass Michelin decided to introduce, which was stiffer (the same the team got to use at the Red Bull Ring).
“What is clear is that the rear tyre has had an impact this weekend," said Rossi after the race. "What this specification gives us is more rear grip, and we’ve struggled less in that sense.
"In the next races we will understand if that improvement has something to do with the kind of track. I think it’s something related to the asphalt grip," added the Italian, sounding sceptical about Yamaha's apparent resurgence.
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images
Crutchlow “destroyed” rear tyre by riding “wrong”
Zarco: Thailand my first "real race" for several rounds