Rossi: Yamaha may have to consider V4 engine switch
Yamaha may have to ultimately consider ditching its long-time inline four engine configuration in favour of a V4 layout to match MotoGP rivals Honda and Ducati, says Valentino Rossi.
Having gone without a win since last year’s Assen race, Yamaha is now on the cusp of its worst ever premier class losing streak, and will eclipse its existing record of 22 races (between 1996 and 1998) if it fails to win next time out at Aragon.
Along with Suzuki, Yamaha is one of two manufacturers that uses the inline four engine layout for its MotoGP bike, with Honda and Ducati – along with Aprilia and KTM – using the V4 configuration.
Honda has used a V engine since the dawn of the MotoGP era, albeit switching from a V5 to a V4 in 2007, while Ducati has always used a wide-angle desmodromic V4 design since it entered the class in 2003.
Honda in particular has made strides with its engine in recent years by switching to a Yamaha-style ‘big-bang’ firing order in 2017 – a year on from adopting the now near-universal counter-rotating crankshaft, adopted by Ducati in 2015.
Asked if Yamaha might have to consider ditching the inline four layout it has used since 2002 to get back on terms with its rivals, Rossi replied: “Yeah, it's possible that also the engine is a problem. It's possible.
“We have to say that Ducati and Honda learned from Yamaha, because already the Yamaha three, four years ago was very smooth, and Honda and Ducati [were] screaming a lot, [they were] more aggressive.
“It looks like in the last years Ducati and Honda made [themselves] more like Yamaha. They have the V [formation], we have the four line... can be [the reason].”
Rossi, who dropped to third in the championship after an anonymous ride to seventh in last weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix also remarked that Yamaha’s rate of development has suffered in recent seasons, having not stood on the podium since July’s Sachsenring race.
Teammate Maverick Vinales has likewise dropped to fifth in the standings after following up a poor run to 12th in Austria with a fifth-place finish in Misano on Sunday.
“In the last three seasons, we start the season with a quite good level but after during the season, especially in the second part, looks like that technically we suffer more,” commented Rossi.
“In fact, if you take my results, I made a lot more podium sin the first half than in the second half. And this happened in the last three years already.
“Looks like the Ducati and Honda are able to develop the bike in a better way compared to us. So this is a problem; they [Yamaha] need to understand why.”
Additional reporting by Lena Buffa
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