Yamaha swallow their pride and go back to 2016’s chassis…
Testing gets underway, but things aren’t always as they seem.
ROSSI AND VINALES looked much happier on the Yamaha at the first test in Sepang, using the 2016 chassis. I know they didn’t come top of the time sheets on the final day (Lorenzo broke the lap record on a Ducati), but those times were put in on qualifiers. If you look at the times on race tyres Rossi and Vinales were one and two. It’s clear Yamaha went in the wrong direction with the chassis in 2017 and it’s probably linked to flex control. Who knows exactly what happened, but perhaps both of them had a great test on a smooth, dry Japanese track with the first 2017 bikes and decided it was the route to go. But a too-stiff chassis would work fine there – that’s what you want on a smooth track. Then they come to the bumpy European tracks, or get a wet race, and it’s a different story. Suddenly the bike is difficult to control on the limit – they get you into trouble quickly – and riders can’t get the most out of it. Chassis flex used to be a dark art, and perhaps Yamaha’s problems show it still is to an extent, but I think a lot of the guesswork has been removed now, and that the engineers have a far better understanding of how much flex is needed (and where) to give the feel on the limit that riders want. I was riding the new V4 Panigale last weekend (see p44) and the Ducati engineers have worked hard at building in just the right amount of stiffness and flex hence the long engine mounts. There didn’t seem to be much guesswork there, I have to say. The Yamaha engineers have had to swallow their pride to go back to the 2016 chassis, but it’s the right thing to do. The factory Yamahas could be a force this season.
Rossi: adri on performance, but on race tyres not quali ers Ducati: top of the time sheets in rst Sepang test, bottom of style sheet for that front end