Who Lin Jarvis is and what he does, we wrote about in the previous episode. What we didn't tell you is that we had been hunting him for some time, but he had rightly always managed to escape our stalking thanks to the tunnel under the Yamaha hospitality office, thanks also to his lookout William Favero, who pretends to be the PR, but is in fact Winston of New York’s Continental Hotel.
If the parallel takes you by surprise, well guys, we don't know what to do. After all, Keanu Reeves is a motorcyclist and he too has a double identity - John Wick - like Lin, whose rule mirrors that of the Continental, therefore: Yamaha hospitality is a free zone in which the strict rule of non-violence applies inside the structure. Here you can find unsuspecting characters like Alberto Melandri, alias Marcus, who under the guise of a barista (he makes excellent cappuccinos) is in fact another of the (many) undercover characters of Yamaha. And not by chance (knocking) he entered Lin's office while we were intent on our one-to-one with the excuse of serving tea. Was it maybe five o'clock? Probably yes, and we're not kidding.
In this pleasantly British atmosphere, we went on for three quarters of an hour, until Favero entered (without knocking) stating that there were two Japanese engineers, pronouncing two names at random, who wanted to speak to him. Oh well, it's understandable: before yours truly Jarvis had spoken with his friend and colleague David Emmett of Motomatters, who puts down 100 lines when he writes his opening words, so...he was exhausted.
And here is the continuation of the long chat with John, otherwise known as Lin. And remember only the Yamaha hospitality is a free zone where the strict rule of non-violence applies. Out in the paddock it's a completely different story. Ask Franky.
The regulations, as is known, freeze the rules until 2026. Massimo Rivola, CEO of Aprilia Racing says that 8 Ducati bikes are too many and with few tests available, this is a huge advantage. He would like to reduce the number of Ducati tests given that it has so many Desmosedicis on the track.
“This is one point of view and I respect Massimo's ideas. But we don't want to make excuses for not being competitive. These are the rules. Why are there 8 Ducatis? The answer is that they have a competitive motorcycle and are willing to lease it. Then unfortunately Suzuki withdrew, and it was something sudden that no one expected but that happens to big companies, on the boards of directors. Of course, 8 Ducatis are too many, nobody wants a 'Ducati Cup', even Carmelo Ezpeleta would like to have 4 bikes for each manufacturer, but perfection doesn't exist".
How did this situation come about?
“Because Ducati was very good at reading between the lines of the rules. Eight Ducatis are too many, six would be enough and with today's rules and the Sprint race having so much data, thanks to powerful modern computers, it is a huge advantage. But it is obvious that we are already working to return to having a second team too".
And just think that in the past there was a Yamaha monopoly in some categories. It's easy to think of the court you're making to the Valentino team.
“We have a lot of activity together with VR46, we are also their technical partners. Then there is the Moto2 project paid for by Yamaha Japan. We can add that Vale is our brand ambassador. For us it makes sense to choose Rossi's team... not to mention that today his is the best satellite team. And it also has excellent riders!”.
Many observers take your marriage for granted. Is that the case?
“To convince them, first we need to have competitive bikes, offering them interesting conditions. Ideally, it's our first choice, but there's always a second choice."
Did you speak directly with Valentino about the project?
“I speak directly with all the members of VR46 and, continuously, also with Valentino. If the Yamaha is competitive, they'll be open to us, but it's still too early at the moment."
Er... it’s early up to a certain point: 2024 is tomorrow and 2025 is just around the corner.
“There really isn't much time…of course we're in touch with everyone all the time. We are confident that we can have another team. As you know, I'm a private person: I think it's possible, but I'm also sure that first we must demonstrate the competitiveness of our bike in 2025. And it's also in the program to offer competitive conditions beyond 2025. I can guarantee that the retirement of Yamaha is complete nonsense. It is true that super sports bikes are not for sale anymore, but we're not just here to promote the R1. There is technological research, the spirit of competition, the training of young engineers. It’s a much wider picture. There is no hesitation in Yamaha, nor lack of conviction. We, and probably Honda too, need to change our approach and be faster, more reactive and more aggressive and look outside Japan. We did it with Marmorini”.
For the moment there hasn't been much progress.
“We will see the results of his work in 2024. There are big discussions in the MSMA concerning aerodynamics, the lowering device. The focus is on the new rules for 2026, but we still have 2024 and 2025 ahead. The rules must be the same for everyone but also for the racing industry. We need smart rules to create competitive races without excessive costs. Rules that also encourage other manufacturers to enter MotoGP".
But who? Maybe, inexplicably, some Chinese industries because we don't see any others.
“It's true: BMW has been talked about for many years, but they have no intention of doing so. KTM is a good example because it has discovered that sport is the best way to enter the global market. Who? Perhaps Triumph, new paths could be opened. However at least we must keep the current manufacturers. It was a great pity that Suzuki dropped out, I didn't expect it. Moreover, it was the first year of a five-year contract! It happens with big companies when the board changes”.
Interest in MotoGP is waning. Top riders have retired, but maybe that's not the only reason. Does Dorna have any responsibility?
“A lack of motivation? I don't want to get into this discussion, my job isn't running the championship, I only enter it for the rules. I have personal opinions, but I won't comment. It would be a provocation and give rise to controversy. Dorna generally supports us. Can we do better? Of course, collectively we can do better. In the five-year period 2026-2031 we will face new challenges: ecology, noise, costs, competitiveness of the show... we must also think, however, of leaving freedom to the engineers because this is a prototype racing series”.
Motorcycling virtually has two prototype racing series: there is also Superbike, even if they are bikes derived from production.
“SBK is a difficult subject to tackle: Ducati is dominating in both categories. They are doing a great job, but we shouldn't let a single manufacturer dominate, as is happening in F1 with Red Bull and Verstappen. It's also true that Mercedes dominated for six years...but Yamaha won the world championship two years ago with Toprak and it's the Ducati-Bautista duo that dominates, not the other Ducati riders. The two championships can coexist, but both championships need to be promoted more. F1 here at Silverstone had 400,000 spectators, but the races weren't interesting. On the other hand, we had few spectators on the same circuit, and this means that there are many possibilities for promotion. Seven years ago, F1 was down a lot and now they've done a great marketing job and it is where it is now."