Rossi talks Yamaha M1 development

Nine-time world champ looks back at most successful bike in MotoGP era

VALENTINO ROSSI gave an incisive view into the development of Yamaha’s M1 MotoGP racer at the team's annual technical briefing at Valencia.

Backed up by Yamaha racing chief Masao Furusawa, Rossi gave a concise summarisation of each year, explaining the highs and lows of the bike's development in his usual charasmatic style

Starting in late 2003 with bike suffering from a lack of rear grip and poor stability, Rossi and Furusawa, along with trusted technician Jerry Burgess, turned the M1 from a second-rate lame duck to a championship-winning bike. Rossi explains:

2004 – “There were three engines, and I decided on this one, with less power but a lot softer feeling: it was smoother and easier to ride and the delivery was more sweet.” He won the title.

2005 – “This was the best, the most competitive. The chassis still had good turning, but the engine improved a lot, with a lot more power. It was very precise in all areas. And we started to work with more electronic controls. The secret was the balance.” He won again.

2006 – “We tried to improve the bike, but made a big problem that caused a lot of chattering. There was a high-frequency vibration and it made you lose the front. Eventually we understood that the front part of the chassis was not strong enough, then in the second part of the season the Michelin tyre problems began.” A front-end crash at the last race at Valencia gave the title to Honda's Nicky Hayden.

2007 – “This year we went from 1000cc to 800, and also less fuel. I think it was a bad decision. We had a very difficult season. The bike had less power and was more difficult to ride. The Ducati was very fast, and Bridgestone had become better than Michelin. The biggest problem was a lack of power, and the Ducati had very good electronics. My best race was going from 11th to first at Assen.” Casey Stoner and Ducati won the championship.

2008 – “A big step – with nine wins and the championship. The power and fuel consumption were better, and electronics were very much improved. For the first time the control could be modified corner by corner. We switched from Michelin to Bridgestone, which was very difficult. We had to change the weight distribution.” Title victory again.

2009 – “It did not change a lot but the bike became more clever (electronically).” Another title win – his fourth and last with Yamaha.

Rossi lost this year's tital to team-mate Lorenzo but can take solace the Spaniard won the title on a bike with little development over Rossi's 2009 concoction: “The bike did not change a lot,” said Lorenzo. “The chassis change gave more mid-corner grip, which I noticed from the first test, and the electronics made the bike very easy to control.”
But Lorenzo added a cautionary note. “Our competitors have caught us. On some tracks they are better. We need more power and more traction.”
Be interesting to see how Lorenzo gets on developing the M1 in 2011.