Valentino Rossi ‘Keep Calm’: Yamaha’s mistakes and “SuperMarquez”

Maverick Vinales is second in championship standings with 36 points off Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi scored another podium at Le Mans, but Yamaha cannot be happy with it. The manufacturer based in Iwata is developing 2018 M1 very slowly an after last winter’s mistakes and “laziness”, that prevented them from closing the gap, it will be difficult to equal Honda and Ducati by the end of the season.

ENGINE – The new engine is more aggressive than the 2017 one and this affects also tyres, leading to the lack of rear grip. The engine used by Johann Zarco has less torque and this, combined with the Frenchman’s “soft” riding style and his lighter body, makes it easier for him compared with Factory riders. At the beginning Rossi and Viñales were happy with 2018 engine, but when Qatar Test came it was too late for a new “beating heart” and Yamaha had to content with the previous spec. Johann’s secret weapon is represented by the electronics-engine combo: “Zarco’s machine is equipped with a different, unique and exclusive engine“, said Ramon Forcada to Movistar MotoGP. “The problem is that, according to the rules, the engine must be the same for all the riders of a team and this is a big problem for us: Valentino is ten metres taller and 15 kilos heavier than Maverick and they have different riding styles, so it’s difficult to agree about the engine”.

ELECTRONICS – What causes the problems Yamaha is suffering doesn’t concern just the engine, because the “package” is made also of electronics, chassis and rider. YZR-M1 needs a different electronics compared to last year and it has to fit the new engine. The main problem is that the Magneti Marelli unit doesn’t fit Factory Yamaha yet: “We cannot exploit the grip and traction a tyre can have”, said Forcada. “In Japan they know how the grip issue could be solved: by creating an engine like the one used by Zarco. But it’s not possible“. The mistakes concerning the engine can be fixed by working on the electronics, but it takes time, energy and testing to find the solution and it would be too late for the fight for the title. At this point Yamaha’s 2018 could be already over.

“KEEP CALM, VALENTINO” – Valentino Rossi hopes for a better second half of the season, but meanwhile he shows his disappointment quite often: “In February I said we were struggling: I’m experienced, usually I’m right in these situations, but they’re very slow in reacting”. The recent test at Mugello wasn’t very useful: there was no important update and the best they could do was working on the right setup. “Before I was optimist, but after that…We were embarrassing”. Valentino said this with a cynical smile, in order to hide the big nervousness invading Yamaha pits. Valentino can just keep an apparent calmness and currently he doesn’t want to work on 2019, also because it would be useless:  2016, 2017 and 2018 M1s are just numbers, in Yamaha the bike is developed just step by step. It’s not like Formula 1, where rules change every year and cars are always different. We’re talking about details that are very important for the bike. This is the reason why I think we should develop it”.

WHO CAN STOP MARQUEZ? – The reigning MotoGP Champion has already a good advantage on his opponents and his Honda RC213V worked perfectly on both “Honda tracks” and more difficult ones like Le Mans. HRC developed very carefully the bike during last winter and also at Jerez and Mugello tests, where they found good and useful solutions for electronics. 2018 World Champion could be decided much earlier than Valencia GP. “Marc has a big advantage, but the main problem for his rivals is his speed – admitted Valentino Rossi -. He’s the fastest one and so it will be very difficult to stop him”. In 2017 El Cabroncito had more problems, especially with the front. But this year HRC found the right solution for aerodynamics, a thing they had worked on very little last year, and this is perfect on tracks where wheelies are easy to see. This combination bike-rider-team is very hard to beat, at least this year.

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