There was a little bit of light at the end of a very dark tunnel after a horrid weekend for the Factory Yamaha team in Aragon.
Movistar Yamaha has had yet another horrid weekend as they continue to suffer in hot temperatures. Their top 10 finishes means that this is there worse ever loosing streak in 40 years.
Despite a positive recent test at the Motorland circuit, where Yamaha tested the 2019 engine and focused on the electronics that have hampered them for the last year and a half, Yamaha could not get anywhere near the top 5 at this weekend’s Aragon circuit as their electronics woes continued this weekend.
Speaking after the test Rossi stated that he “hopes it was just a small modification because it wasn’t so different.”
With both Yamaha’s outside the top 10 after FP3 and then Valentino Rossi failing to make it out of Q1, both Yamaha riders was aiming to “take some points” in Sunday’s race.
Things were looking to be even tougher for the boys in blue as conditions were expected to hit 35°c with track temperatures in the mid 40’s, Yamaha’s worse nightmare.
Yamaha’s first problem in the hot temperatures came at Jerez in 2017, the track Valentino Rossi took a dominant victory 12 months before, but 2017 was a seriously different story when the pair got seriously outperformed by both Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger on the 2016 Tech 3 Yamaha’s.
Things continued into Catalunya when yet another hot weekend saw Yamaha fall out of the top 5 with Rossi in 8th 20.821 seconds behind fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso who took the win, and Maverick Vinales in 10th a further 4 seconds back from his 9x world champion teammate.
With Yamaha clueless about what has happened Valentino Rossi decided to switch back to the 2017 frame for his beloved Assen round where he took Yamaha’s last win, 14 months ago.
To add salt to the wound for the Italian, Rossi would miss his home Grand Prix in Misano after breaking his leg in an enduro crash.
With high-hopes Yamaha could pull off a 2004 style comeback for the 2018 season, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi both fought on, eventually ending the 2017 season in 3rd (Vinales) and 5th (Rossi) which was Yamaha’s lowest championship position since Valentino Rossi finished 3rd in his return season to Yamaha.
Heading into 2018, Yamaha still looked to be all at sea after the first pre-season test, but with a positive test in Sepang, all was not lost.
The same story kept coming up week in week out, Yamaha cannot save there rear tyre, too much spinning and no understanding on a fix with the electronics.
To try and aid Yamaha’s performance in 2018, they brought in World Superbike data man Michele Gadda who is helping them for the rest of 2018 and into 2019.
In Aragon, Valentino Rossi equaled the lowest qualifying position he has had since Assen 2006 when the Italian lined up in 18th after riding with injury.
So what do Yamaha need to do now? Can they ditch the Inline 4 and switch to the V4 engine to join their rivals Honda and Ducati? and if they do, will they get maximum performance out of it in there the first season or will it be another year without wins from Yamaha as they adapt to the new engine?
Valentino Rossi was able to salvage a top 8 finish in Aragon despite both him and Maverick both wanting to fight for the podium in Aragon ahead of the Thursday media day.
Speaking on Sunday evening after the race Rossi said: “Already from this morning I tried to feel a little bit better, so my feeling with the bike improved and we could make some adjustments for the race. The end of the race was better than what I expected, because I wasn’t particularly fast, but my pace was consistent. Our technical situation is quite difficult because we have to fight to the maximum to be inside the top-10 at the moment.”
Meanwhile, his teammate Maverick Vinales seemed confused on the lose of pace compared to FP4: “The rhythm wasn’t there, though we had it in FP4 – on the same tyres we were doing 1’48s, but in the race it wasn’t possible. I didn’t feel great at the Buriram track in pre-season testing, but I’ll try my best, as always, and take the maximum result.”
Things seem very desperate at Yamaha as they now head to a track where they ended the test in 8th and 12th after what was another struggle in hot temperatures.
Things are already in motion to make 2019 better for Yamaha after signing the 2017 Tech 3 Yamaha rider Jonas Folger who has experience on a Yamaha. We also know Yamaha tested the 2019 engine at Aragon 3 weeks ago but with little improvements, could the future continue to be a dark one for Yamaha?
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