They are the third force in SBK right now. Yamaha, with its R1, is trying to close the gap to its competitors, namely Ducati and Kawasaki. The 4-cylinder from Iwata definitely has a great chassis, something that helps at certain tracks, as proved by VD Mark's double podium at Assen. But perhaps it needs a little more, perhaps in terms of the engine. We may see something already this year, but that's more likely in 2020, when an evolution (rather than a revolution) of the YZF-R1 will be introduced.
As for the current season, a few new elements were brought to the Misano test, though the weather limited the team's work. Andrea Dosoli is nevertheless confident about the work completed thus far:
"We introduced new ergonomics for everyone at Misano, with some changes to the tank and seat, and the work was appreciated by the riders. The weather didn't help unfortunately, so we need to work to better evaluate the changes made."
There were positive signs at Assen (VD Mark third in race 1 and second in race 2); is the final step to consolidate last year's wins? Or is it more complicated?
"We've grown a lot this year, but the level of the championship has also gone up. We're pleased in that we've improved our race times by around 7-10 seconds at all tracks. We're working well and continue to reduce the gap to Bautista who's having a great championship it must be said."
Honda and Kawasaki are looking ahead to 2020 with the bikes. What is Yamaha doing in this regard?
"Every manufacturer has its own plan, also depending on the market needs and demands and we are doing the same. We don't hide the fact that we are working on something for all-round improvement and this will soon be ready. The R1 has achieved great success at national and international level. But we're not settling of course."
Is there still room for improvement with the R1?
"If we look at this year's step forward, having worked mainly on the chassis, the ergonomics and settings, it's normal that we can always do something. So we still think we have room to grow with the current configuration."
What do you have to do to beat Ducati, follow the same path as them?
"Why do we need to build a production bike that is like a MotoGP, does it make sense? Or does it make more sense to offer the bikes that the market demands? Each manufacturer will make its own evaluations to offer its many customers the best possible product."
SBK is all about promoting the bikes on sale to customers through racing, it's not about spending 40,000 euro to be competitive in a race. We need to sit down and discuss how we can combine the needs of racing with those of the market. We're pleased with the level of the R1 and I don't think we need to turn it upside down."
Might a 'price cap' for the race bike be a solution?
"It could be, we'll talk about it. But in my opinion, it's better to leave manufacturers free to do what can best marry with the needs of its customers. And then we'll have equilibrium for the teams and manufacturers on track, so that everyone can promote their bikes without compromising production schedules."
Yamaha is struggling in MotoGP compared to Honda and Ducati, while there appears to be a more level playing field in SBK:
"We've found great equilibrium between teams and riders, everyone motivated to do well. Across all classes. We consider that the right platform on which to help riders grow, putting teams in the condition to follow a path together. We are investing in this championship aware that it has potential and significant market return. We have initiated a supporting programme, that starts with the 300 and aims to help teams become more competitive. We're pleased with the work done up until now and we'll continue on this path, but we realise there is room for improvement."
Interview recorded at Jerez by Riccardo Guglielmetti