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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dovi helps convince Yamaha to be Yamaha?


Feedback from former factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso looks to have played a part in convincing Yamaha MotoGP boss Masahiko Nakajima that the company should stick with its own design principles.

Yamaha won the MotoGP triple crown of Riders', Teams' and Manufacturers' titles from 2008 to 2010 - with Valentino Rossi and then Jorge Lorenzo claiming individual honours - but success swung dramatically in Honda's favour last year.

New signing Casey Stoner gave Honda its first MotoGP title since 2006, with HRC's RC212V motorcycle winning 13 of last season's 17 races. Lorenzo finished title runner-up for Yamaha with three wins, while new team-mate Ben Spies took the other victory.

Meanwhile Dovizioso kept third in the championship from team-mate Dani Pedrosa during November's Valencia season finale, then made his Tech 3 Yamaha debut a day later at the same circuit.

A Honda rider since the 2002 125cc season, Dovizioso was able to provide Yamaha engineers with a direct comparison between the 800cc Japanese bikes, before moving on to test the 1000cc M1.

The last time a Repsol Honda rider moved to Yamaha was Valentino Rossi in 2004.

“This is a very interesting subject,” said Masahiko Nakajima, general manager of Yamaha's Motorsport Development Division, when asked about feedback from a factory RCV rider.

“In Valencia last year already we got many comments from Dovizioso (pictured). His comments always compared the Yamaha with the Honda at that track.

“During last season we also investigated a lot of things about the RC212 bike. And sometimes I thought we have to follow the Honda type of bike - or Honda type of engine [V4 compared with Yamaha's Inline4] blah, blah, blah…

“But finally, I reached the decision that this is not true.

“We can't create a Honda bike; Yamaha can only create a Yamaha bike. This was my conclusion. We have to create more like Yamaha and must go our own way with the chassis and engine.”

Speaking during the Sepang tests, former British MotoGP race winner Dovizioso spoke about the contrasting philosophies.
“The Yamaha is really different, because the philosophy of Yamaha and Honda from history is always opposite: Honda tried to have the most power and Yamaha the best handling,” he said.

“I arrived with the mentality of Honda and tried to ride the Yamaha in a certain way, but it didn't work. So I had to change and lap by lap it is getting much better.”

Despite a fractured collarbone in a winter motocross accident, Dovizioso already looks comfortable on the M1 - the Italian leaving the second and final Sepang test as the top Yamaha rider in third place.

World Superbikes winner MSMW2012