YAMAHA'S 2012 R1 came tantalisingly close to making it as far as it's official launch time – 5pm GMT tonight – without any early leaks. But as usual the internet fairies have been working their magic and the info has managed to get into the public domain a tad early.
So, what's the score? Well, not much has changed. As expected, there's a special version of the bike to celebrate Yamaha's 50th anniversary in GP racing, plus new colours. The bike's nose has been slightly modified to distinguish it from the 2009-2011 model, but in terms of chassis and engine things are much as before.
The ECU has been remapped, most importantly to incorporate a new seven-setting traction control system, which is above and beyond the existing three-way throttle map – something the new bike also keeps.
The top yoke has been redesigned to look more like the one of the firm's M1 GP bike, but apart from that the metal bits haven't been altered in the slightest.
While the pictures you see here, via TMCBlog.com, don't show the changes to the nose very clearly, it seems the air intakes have been reshaped and the plastics changed very slightly; the existing bike's black plastic section 'twixt nose and side panel has vanished. It also looks like the heat shields on the exhaust have been subtly altered.
All in all, not too much to put the fear of the R1 into the likes of BMW's S1000RR, but the changes, allied to the bike's oh-so-usable crossplane-crank engine, could boost it back into contention.
Update: official Yamaha pictures of the 2012 R1 here.
Other useful links: 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 traction control video, 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 specs, review and owner's opinions, 2012 Yamaha R1 drops in price, 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 colours revealed and 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 first ride review.