MotoGP: How much trouble is Yamaha in with their engines?
It’s hard to believe that we are at the end of July and we are only 2 rounds into the 2020 World Championship, yet there is so much to talk about already, Marc Marquez injured, Fabio Quartaro’s rise to the top, and seemingly Yamaha’s resurgence, but is it all as it seems with the Yamaha teams? In short, no.
Earlier in the week before the start of the Andalucian Grand Prix, it was revealed that Yamaha had to send five engines back to Japan, three from Maverick Viñales, and two from Valentino Rossi, who had retired from the Spanish Grand Prix.
This morning it was revealed that Maverick Vianles was on engine number five, and Valentino Rossi was on engine number four, no big deal right? Just give them more engines? In the current MotoGP rule set, any team who hasn’t qualified for concessions, that allow you more engines, is only entitled to five engines per season, with the engines being sealed on FP1 round one. This means certain components are sealed and can not be investigated or the teams can face hefty penalties such as starting at the back of the grid or even pit-lane starts.
The understanding is that Yamaha has asked the FIM for special dispensation to open the engines to investigate what the fault could be, Yamaha has had two retirements in two Grand Prix’s with Valentino Rossi having a red warning flash up on his dash during last weeks Spanish Grand Prix, and with Franco Morbidelli who had what seemingly looked like a similar issue in the Andalucian Grand Prix.
What are Yamaha’s options should the FIM refuse the request to open the seal on the engines?
The simple and unimaginative answer is just taking the penalties, but with Marc Marquez missing out on 50 points in the last 2 races this can not be an option for the Japanese Factory, the other option is to potentially lower the revs available to the riders, again there is a con to this, with a bike that is underwhelmingly powered and slowest in the speed traps, and with circuits like Brno and Red Bull Ring approaching, this could be a real struggle for Yamaha to fend off the red Ducati’s and of course when he returns, a fired-up Marc Marquez.
This isn’t the first time Yamaha has run into trouble with engines since the controlled ECU came in for 2016. Mugello the same year Jorge Lorenzo blew up an engine during morning warm-up before Rossi heartbreakingly destroyed his engine whilst fighting for the lead in the race.
What’s next for Yamaha?
It’s no secret Yamaha’s Achilles heel has been its engine performance over the last few years, with top speed being a major weakness. Back in 2018, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales had been pushing Yamaha to produce a V4 engine instead of the inline for they currently use, not too dissimilar to when Honda switched from the screamer V4 to the big bang V4 for 2017, however, Yamaha has yet to consider using the V4 configuration.
Although we are early in the championship it shouldn’t be brushed off how much trouble this could leave Yamaha in, and with 2 riders in the top 2 in the championship, they will be hoping that this is an easily resolved issue or an issue related to the extreme temperatures that were presented over the 2 weekends in Jerez.
Yamaha currently lies first and second in the riders’ championship, the top of the constructors and 1-2 in the teams’ championship, their best start to a championship since Viñales joined the team in 2017.
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