Yesterday’s official launch of the 2011 MI at Sepang has highlighted a worrying scenario at Yamaha. Both their MotoGp team AND their WSBK team are undertaking the 2011 season WITHOUT a major naming-rights sponsor. FIAT took their bat and ball and went home when Rossi announced he was leaving and, despite hoping that budget Malaysian airline Air Asia and petroleum giant Petronas would fill the void, neither have stepped up to the plate.
So, what is wrong at Yamaha? You’d think that a team that won the MotoGp title last year would be beating back offers with a stick, but, for whatever reason, they’ll be going into 2011 running corporate blue.
Yamaha themselves are attempting to put a positive spin on the situation pointing out that, in their 50th anniversary year (of racing), the use of their corporate colours allows them plenty of scope to advertise their brand (amazing what the spin doctors can conjure up, isn’t it?) In reality, though, someone at Yamaha has stuffed up. In a world market still devastated by the GFC, this is the worst possible time to be embarking on the hugely expensive task of grand prix racing using just your own money.
Meanwhile, over at Yamaha WSBK a similar situation has unfolded. Remember the other day I published a picture of Yamaha’s colour scheme for 2011? Well, I didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to me, that their major sponsor is now also gone. Italian dairy company Sterilgarda was expected to renew its commitment for 2011 but has withdrawn also, leaving the 2009 champions to run without a major sponsor also.
Heads will have undoubtedly already rolled at Yamaha’s advertising and promotions department.
Speaking of WSBK, Day 1 of the official pre-season test at Phillip Island took place yeaterday with a few “surprises” Here’s the times.
1. Carlos Checa ESP Althea Ducati 1098R 1min 31.383s
2. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Effenbert Liberty Ducati 1098R 1min 32.303s
3. Jakub Smrz CZE Effenbert Liberty Ducati 1098R 1min 32.316s
4. Max Biaggi ITA Aprilia Alitalia Racing RSV-4 1min 32.383
5. Michel Fabrizio ITA Suzuki Alstare GSX-R1000 1min 32.453s
6. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki RTS ZX-10R 1min 32.466s
7. Marco Melandri ITA Yamaha WSBK YZF R1 1min 32.474s
8. Jonathan Rea GBR Castrol Honda CBR1000RR 1min 32.532s
9. Leon Haslam GBR BMW Motorrad S1000RR 1min 32.578s
10. Eugene Laverty IRL Yamaha WSBK YZF R1 1min 32.600s
11. Joan Lascorz ESP Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 1min 32.940s
12. Josh Waters AUS Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 1min 33.140s
13. Ruben Xaus ESP Castrol Honda CBR1000RR 1min 33.165s
14. Troy Corser AUS BMW Motorrad S1000RR 1min 33.255s
15. Leon Camier GBR Aprilia Alitalia Racing RSV-4 1min 33.560s
16. Noriyuki Haga JPN PATA Aprilia RSV-4 1min 33.786s
17. James Toseland GBR BMW Italia S1000RR 1min 33.829s
18. Maxime Berger FRA Supersonic Ducati 1098R 1min 33.909s
19. Bryan Staring AUS Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1min 34.047s
20. Ayrton Badovini ITA BMW Italia S1000RR 1min 34.686s
21. Roberto Rolfo ITA Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1min 34.821s
22. Mark Aitchison AUS Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1min 35.306s
23. Akira Yanagawa JPN Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 1min 35.470s
Phillip Island official WSBK lap records
Best lap: Regis Laconi FRA DFX Ducati 1m 31.050s (2009)
Race lap record: Troy Corser AUS Yamaha Italia 1m 31.826s (2007)
Ducati, who withdrew their official team entry for 2011 after failing to blackmail the organisers into giving them their usual unfair advantage, have 3 bikes at the top of the time sheets! Damn, it must suck to be riding one of those “slow” Ducatis, mustn’t it?