In the last week, I have been collecting quite a lot of statistics, which have reminded me just how dominant Yamaha used to be in the FIM Motocross World Championship. Nowadays, it is easy to forget this, as the manufacturer has had some disappointing years. However, they are still looking to rebound, despite this, as they have made some big improvements to their bikes for next year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like their results are going to drastically improve though.
In fact, Yamaha may be going into the 2014 FIM Motocross World Championship in an even worse position, specifically in the MX1 class. Surprisingly, they have Jeremy van Horebeek on the 450f, and that is it. Sure, David Philippaerts will be on a blue bike. However, David is not on a factory-supported team. Jeremy will be the only rider in the MX1 class that Yamaha are fully behind, which is odd, in all honesty. Obviously, it is not entirely their fault that they are in this position; they did not think that Dean Ferris was going to leave the squad back when they signed him.
When the Rinaldi Yamaha team released a statement saying that they were going to go with just one MX1 rider in 2014 (Jeremy van Horebeek), I was surprised. I mean, I can understand why they would go with just one rider, if the guy were a proven winner. I think that it is strange that they have decided to put all of their resources into Jeremy. The Belgian has not finished on the overall podium in MX1, yet. I do believe that he will do this frequently next year though. But, it may be unrealistic to expect him to win a moto, which means that Yamaha probably won’t win an MX1 GP with their YZ450F, once again, hence why it is such a big risk.
Something has to change, evidently. Yamaha have won just one MX1 GP in the last two years, and that was with Shaun Simpson! It has been a long draught for the manufacturer that was once unstoppable. In order for the Rinaldi Yamaha team to get back to where they once were, they need to get a contender for wins under their tent, which may be harder than it seems. It is no secret that the YZ450f has a very bad reputation at the moment, so most riders are not too keen to ride it, but Yamaha have made some big changes for 2014, which should have a positive affect on their results.
Although their results in MX2 have been a little better this year, they are still not on par with KTM and Kawasaki. Of course, they won a GP with Dean Ferris (at Bastogne) earlier this year. However, before that day, their last MX2 win was in 2010! So, Yamaha have not exactly been too successful with their 250f, either. In 2014 the manufacturer could turn it around, as both Max Anstie and Christophe Charlier will be on their bikes – they could end up winning a few more races. The Kemea Reytec team will be on Yamahas, as well. With Petar Petrov, and Luke Styke on the team, they could end up with some impressive finishes.
Unfortunately, the situation for Yamaha is no better over in America. Although, they do have a strong 250f team – MyPlash Star Racing Yamaha. Yamaha have adapted the approach used by Geico Honda, evidently, as they have guided both Jeremy Martin, and Cooper Webb from the amateur level to the professional scene. It is clearly a successful program, as now look set to reap the rewards in 2014. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see either rider on the box at round one of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series.
However, they are struggling with their 450f program just like they are in the MXGP series. It is unlikely that they will win any 450 races in 2014 either, as Josh Grant, and Justin Brayton are their strongest riders. In my opinion, they are going to struggle to break into the top five overall in 2014, as the class is stacked with some very fast riders. Potentially, JGR Yamaha could have someone else under their tent next year; they have been testing with Phil Nicoletti recently. Of course, this will mean that Yamaha will have a larger presence in the class. But, there will be less Yamaha teams in the USA than this year, surprisingly.
Actually, there were a lot of Yamaha supported teams in America heading into this year. But, they did not all make it to the end of the season, as Velocity 3 Racing and Eleven10 Mods bowed out. There are not any new Yamaha teams this year, either. However, the riders they do have are solid. But, once again, they may not be title contenders. Undoubtedly, the best shot that they have is with either Webb or Martin.
I do believe that Yamaha will be back to their winning ways soon enough. However, it may not be in 2014, as the manufacturer seems to be rebuilding at the moment. But, it must be noted that their bikes really are not as bad as they are made out to be, especially now that they have made some big improvements to their 2014 models.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Yamaha PR