Jarvis explains extensive Yamaha team shake-ups

Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis outlines thorough changes both inside the MotoGP team and the management restructure alongside its new European-run test squad
Jarvis explains extensive Yamaha team shake-ups

Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis has outlined the extensive changes both inside the MotoGP team and the management restructure alongside its new European-run test squad as it looks to turnaround its fortunes after a tough 2018.

With Yamaha suffering its longest winless stretch across the end of 2017 and into 2018, which was ended by Maverick Vinales with victory in Australia, the Japanese manufacturer has undergone an huge shake-up this winter to kick-start its push for the new season.

Changes have been made on both sides of the team garage for Valentino Rossi and Vinales plus senior management appointments, along with a new title sponsor in Monster Energy, meaning the factory Yamaha squad will look very different this year and Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, hopes the lessons of last year can be implemented this season starting at the “very, very, very important” Sepang test.

Jarvis outlined Takahiro Sumi, who had been heading Yamaha’s chassis department, will take up the role of MotoGP Group Leader while Hiroshi Itou becomes General Manager of Yamaha’s Motorsport Development Division working under Kouichi Tsuji.

“I think with any team structure there will always be changes and adjustments that need to be made,” Jarvis said during Yamaha’s team launch in Indonesia. “Of course on the technical side but also on the staffing side it is important to have changes we are making this season.

“Another change that is very important is the interaction between Japan and Europe. Japan is primarily responsible for the development of the bike but now the engineering section of Yamaha Motor Racing takes on a more significant role in the future.

“We have a vehicle dynamics group there and we have an electronics group and we are expanding in Europe, in Italy, so that interaction between Europe and Japan will be very important.”



The changes at Yamaha have been likened to a Formula 1-style of operation by Rossi who is encouraged by the development push in the new structure.

“For me this is very important, because in the last two years our opponents change very much the way to work,” Rossi said. “I think that especially Ducati change a lot and put more people to work in different areas and try to organise their team more like a Formula 1 team, more similar.

“I think that we can be strong. But we have to wait because the work is hard for us, because especially the second half of last season we suffer. So it's not easy to recover in a short time. But will be very important to understand if we are in a good way.”

Another part of Yamaha’s ramp-up in development is the launch of the European-based test team headed up by former MotoGP rostrum-finisher Jonas Folger.

“We’ve always had a test team in Japan, in particular with Katsuyuki Nakasuga, and we have now taken a European-organised test team to bring that final piece of testing closer to the level of our Grand Prix riders. That is Jonas Folger and that test team will be organised in Europe,” Jarvis explained.

Adjustments within the Yamaha team garage will also sweep into place for 2019 with Esteban Garcia confirmed as Vinales’ new crew chief following his split with Roman Forcada. Wilco Zeelenberg joins Forcada in the move to the new Petronas SRT Yamaha satellite squad, with 2009 125cc world champion Julian Simon taking over Zeelenberg’s role as rider coach.

Finally, Rossi also welcomes a new rider coach in Idalio Gavira with Luca Cadalora stepping down from the role after three years due to family reasons. Hitoshi Hoshino has also switched from his central role to working exclusively on the nine-time world champion’s side of the garage.

Team Director Massimo Meregalli was absent from the Jakarta launch due to his team duties at Sepang at the Shakedown test.

“Meregalli’s absence from here today is also indicative as the test in Sepang is a very, very, very important test for us,” Jarvis explained. “We’ve chosen with the changes in the team and changes in YMC it was more important for Maio to be in Sepang right now preparing everything for the test.

“I am confident that with the technical changes we have, the personnel changes we have, with the riders and sponsor we have we are planning on a good season.”