Riders:: Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo
Pre-season theories suggested Yamaha would cope best with Motogp’s technical transformation, because the M1 is a very neutral motorcycle and Yamaha have done a lot of work with Magneti Marelli over the years. Five wins from the first seven races seemed to confirm those theories.
“When we tested with Michelin last year we were worried because we were slow, we crashed and we had no front feeling,” explains Rossi. “But the front tyre has improved a lot, so now we use similar settings to what we used with Bridgestone. Also, I grew up with the Michelins, so I feel comfortable now.”
Rossi’s age and experience have also helped him with the lower-tech unified software. “We expected a big, big step back, but in the end it’s only half a step back,” he adds. “Overall the bike is now very similar to last year.”
In fact the lower-tech rider aids may actually help Rossi, who contested his first three seasons in the premier class without traction control.
“Valentino says he now has more control in his hand, which is sometimes good because he can make a difference over other riders,” says Rossi’s crew chief, Silvano Galbusera. “I believe the best ECU is still the rider’s brain.
“The bad thing Valentino notices with the electronics is that they react slower because the working calculations from the ECU are slower. It’s only milliseconds but the riders feel it.”
Conveniently, two other technical changes have compensated for the drop in electronics performance.
“When the Michelin rear spins you still have drive, whereas with the Bridgestone you lost acceleration,” adds Galbusera. “Also now that we have 22 litres of fuel instead of 20, the acceleration is smoother because we have a better fuel/air mix.”
In June, Yamaha gave Rossi and Lorenzo re- vised frames with different stiffness to better suit the Michelins. Rossi rejected the frame, while Lorenzo uses one bike with the old frame and one with the new.
“The new frame is better in some areas but Vale feels the front is less stable,” adds Galbusera. “The balance of his bike is quite like last year, though we use different front geometry and harder fork springs to stress the front tyre less.”
And yet Yamaha do have one problem. The M1 doesn’t generate enough heat into the front tyre in cold and/or wet conditions. This has caused Rossi and Lorenzo difficulties at cooler races like Assen and the Sachsenring. Lorenzo is in the biggest trouble when the sun doesn’t shine because his M1 used so little fore/aft pitch that it heats the tyres even less.
Galbusera believes the best ECU is the rider’s brain