Reigning champions feeling confident but recognise the costs of having to maintain a title charge in 2015 ahead of a year of change.
Having won the world title as rider, manufacturer and team Yamaha could be forgiven for thinking that they will start 2016 from a position of dominance but it’s a notion quickly discounted by key figures within the squad.
“We’re confident that we will have all that we need to challenge to retain our three titles,” said Managing Director Lin Jarvis. “We know that our competitors will be out for revenge and we can never underestimate the efforts that they will apply to try to dethrone us.”
Jarvis is correct not to underestimate the challenge presented by Honda and Ducati this year. Early in the season the reigning champions are at a disadvantage given that last year’s title scrap meant that resources were spent focused on 2015 bike rather than the future. With their riders out of title contention from early in the summer Honda and Ducati were able to spend time focusing on understanding the new tyres whereas Rossi and Lorenzo were doing all they could to beat each other to the crown.
“At the end of 2015 Yamaha has a problem compared to the other manufacturers with their two riders fighting for the championship,” admitted Rossi. “It’s a good problem though! All the manufacturers would like to have this problem but for us it caused a bit of a delay. Suzuki, Ducati, also Honda went to Misano to test during the season with the Michelins and they were able to make a good setting.
“We tested with the Bridgestone to get the maximum until the end of the season. I think that we are a little bit behind in kilometres [with Michelin] and for the test in Valencia we were not ready. Also we needed a little bit of rest after a championship like this. We needed to be more concentrated and fast to understand the balance of the bike during this test so our test will start officially [at Sepang] on 1 February.”
Adapting to Michelin tyres and the unified electronics package will be a challenge for Yamaha having spent so much of their resources winning the title. The atmosphere within the camp however leaves Jarvis in no doubts that the reigning champions will be working hard to retain their crowns.
“One of our strengths is the fact that the team works really well together. We realise that the riders are individually competitors of each other but the team, the mechanics, the crew chiefs and engineers all work really well together and if we put a barrier or wall in the garage it will be to the deficit of the team, both riders and the engineers. This is something of the past and it’s not useful anymore. We understand that both riders are competing against each other but as Jorge has said, if Valentino is his main competitor for the championship it is a good sign as it shows Yamaha is at the front and that’s our main mission, to beat our competitors.”