What Does Yamaha Really Need for 2017?

With a severe losing streak and Lorenzo exiting his contract, what does the Japanese team need to climb back to the top?

It’s no secret that the 2016 season has not been the best one for Yamaha. Multiple missed attempts at a podium finish and several spills – including the dual dropout of Lorenzo and Rossi at Motegi – cast a haze of uncertainty on the future of the reputable manufacturer.

While the storied team is no stranger to winning, it’s near 10 race win drought since June has some eyeing the tires of the M1 as a potential cause. Michelin’s takeover after Bridgestone’s exit was a shock to the system to say the least. 2015 saw the teams and riders testing out their new supplier’s product in every condition possible – including the one that involved Loris Baz’s rear tire exploding at 180MPH.

Loris thankfully walked away from the crash with only minor fractures in his ankle and tibia, but sweet tapdancing Christ that’s the last thing you want happening to your rider at that velocity.

Sure, Yamaha didn’t suffer a catastrophic tire failure, but remembering Rossi’s extended stay in the wet during the Sepang qualifier does lead some credence to the possibility that the team is still tweaking their use of Michelin’s compound. Regardless of what the root cause is, it’s evident to see that Movistar Yamaha could with an adjustment in their plan of attack.

The 2016 season is at a close and Marquez has claimed the title, and their riders are vying for 2nd and 3rd place. It’s not as if two of the best riders, on the same team, would just give up that easy – new tyres or not. Jorge Lorenzo set a new lap record at Valencia with 1.29 and expressed a yearning to push himself and the machine to their limits during the forthcoming race.

“My motivation was full on, because I wanted to get the best challenge for pole position, but tomorrow is going to be the most important because that decides the victory, which for sure will be very hard to get it. At least I can say that in the last race with Yamaha I got pole position and I think that today I was inspired.

This 1’29.8s I already expected and I did it, but not only that, I improved the lap time without a new tyre. I did everything I could and risked in braking. It was a great day and an inspiring moment and I’m very proud and very happy.”

– Jorge Lorenzo

With nothing short of a shifting of riders, machines, and yet another iterative pass on the technology that makes these beautiful machines the powerhouses they are, we can only look forward to off-season developments to see what the 2017 season will bring.