It's a Yamaha that is moving in small steps, trying to try to get that victory that's been missing since last year's Sachsenring. More than success, the target of the Iwata manufacturer is to close the gap that has been created with the European bikes, where Ducati has blazed a trail and the competition has no choice but to follow.
We talked about this and much more in a long interview together with Maio Meregalli, who wanted to take stock of the situation, also looking towards the future. Clear and transparent words spoken by the team manager in blue, who does not hide the difficulties.
“We come here to Phillip Island, a track that has poor grip, aware that we can struggle - he declared – in the end, however, this is our Yamaha and it must be ridden in this way. Unfortunately, until FP1 begins, doubts remain. All of this is disappointing, because in the past this was a track suited to the M1, but now this historic one no longer exists."
Massimo, the season is coming to an end and we are already looking towards 2024. What should we expect?
“There won't be any upheavals, in fact the program is quite clear. Obviously we will have a lot of work to do and the engine is not the only problem with our bike, because there are other aspects such as aerodynamics. In this respect we will see something new in Valencia. Personally, I am of the opinion that the package should be rejuvenated and updated, given that 10 more horsepower will not solve the bike's problems."
Speaking of engines, is there this start of collaboration with Marmorini?
“What we tried in Misano is precisely the fruit of the collaboration between Japan and Marmorini. The 2024 engine, although similar, is different from the current one and was developed jointly."
Dall'Igna and many others maintain that the V engine is the one best suited to the current MotoGP.
“What I can say is that we will continue with the inline-4 concept. In our opinion, the inline engine offers the possibility of having good if not even better performance than the V-engine. The lengths of the exhaust, just to give an example, remain the same, as does the breathing. The V engine instead offers the possibility of making a narrower bike, favouring aerodynamics. Having said that, we remain faithful to the inline engine."
How difficult is this situation for Fabio to accept?
“Quartararo is a rider who is very good at putting difficulties behind him and looking ahead to the next race. Morally, India and Indonesia have left some good feelings, but we must do more. This moment is frustrating for us too, because we are aware of the situation. In the past there were a few years of stagnation, but I can assure you that the development effort is important."
The risk is that this World Championship could become a Ducati Cup.
“Unfortunately we are accusing incompetence from an aerodynamic point of view and we are paying for it. We need to work a lot, because the other manufacturers don't use aerodynamics only for downforce, but for corner entry and cornering. We lost those strengths we had because with aerodynamics the other teams managed to do what the chassis didn't allow them to do."
Massimo, we saw Rea and Marquez tear up their contracts this year. Aren't you afraid of a move like this from Fabio too?
“I'm more worried about what 2025 will be like. In that case we will have to convince him with the performance of the bike and not with the monetary aspect. At the moment I don't see Fabio in the situation of breaking a contract. Anything can happen, but we haven’t perceived this."
How much does the absence of a satellite team weigh?
“For Yamaha it is very important to have it and we will do everything for 2025. The fact of being with only two riders becomes complicated because you find yourself with little data available. Fortunately the format of the weekend has changed, because before it was a problem, given that we had no way to work on the bike and every session was a qualifying session."
In the comparison between Europe and the Far East, how big do you think the gap that has been created is now?
“From an investment point of view I can say that it is there and it is important. The fact is that European manufacturers have greater aggression and a different approach to dealing with certain dynamics and reacting to situations. Things are changing at Yamaha too and an example is the collaboration with Marmorini. In fact, I think it's an important signal. I am of the opinion that we could use as an advantage the possibility to work in harmony with the Japanese engineers, who put precision and attention to detail into it".
Will we see Yamaha win again in 2024?
“This is our goal. Victory is not such a quick thing to achieve, but I think we will be halfway between the current position and the top positions."