Rossi complains of Yamaha top speed gulf after Aragon woe

Yamaha suffered in Aragon as its usual grip advantage weakened to expose its serious top speed deficits... but why is the gulf to its rivals so large?

Valentino Rossi - Yamaha M1 MotoGP

Valentino Rossi once again reiterated top speed as a priority for Yamaha to address going forward as the manufacturer lost out on a podium opportunity in the Aragon MotoGP because it had no answer to its rivals in a straight line.

Though Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo continued their strong qualifying efforts with a front row start alongside Marc Marquez but faded in the race, with the former overtaken by both Andrea Dovizioso and Jack Miller late on as he struggled with grip.

Indeed, though Yamaha showed strongest pace in the corners, the M1 would be embarrassed repeatedly by Ducati down the long back straight, first when Vinales chased Miller early in the race and later when he was overtaken by Dovizioso and then by Miller again.

Rossi fared worse, quickly dropping away from the top six battle and finishing a distant eighth, more than 18secs off winner Marquez.

"It's very important because it's a lot easier if you're fast in the straight,” Rossi told in Spain. “You have time for free and if you have to fight it a lot easier to overtake," he said.

"We know it's our tough part, the top speed, and we push a lot with Yamaha to improve next year. It's not easy because the gap is quite a lot but I think Yamaha know they have to work under this point of view."

Why hasn’t Yamaha solved its top speed issue?

The scale of Yamaha’s issues in Aragon were highlighted when the manufacturer was left with nothing in its armoury as tyres faded, negating its general advantage in terms of agility and grip. As such, when Vinales headed onto the long back straight, the Ducati was past and ahead before the three-quarter mark.

Whilst Ducati with its superior top speed isn’t news in MotoGP, Aragon shows exactly how much ground Yamaha needs to make up even just to be in range, let alone as quick or – even less likely – quicker.

To put into figures, Marquez hit a 340km/h during his pole--winning Q2 lap during the Aragon MotoGP, whereas Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo managed a 327.3km/h best... and placed their Yamahas on the front row alongside him.

However, a fast bike in performance figures doesn’t necessarily translate into quickest lap times and recent rounds indicate Yamaha has made a step forward in terms of acceleration which allowed it to be more competitive in Austria, Silverstone and Misano. 

The fear is going too far with the power drive changes the Yamaha’s DNA in a way that makes it too specialist to ride – much like the Repsol Honda which has indifferent competitiveness in anyone other than Marc Marquez’s hands.

Instead, a more gradual move in that direction so as not to upset the M1’s compliant set up, one that despite the lack of silverware has seen Yamaha at least produce strong performances across all four riders in 2019, is preferred.

Indeed, while the factory Yamaha team is 73 points shy of Ducati in the teams’ standings, once you add their satellite efforts into the mix it narrows to 16 points.

But with Rossi considering his future beyond 2020, he may not have time for Yamaha to make such a shallow ascension.

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