In what’s probably another sign of the times, Yamaha is closing their World Superbike factory team.
The news may come as a surprise to some; Yamaha riders Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty hold down third and fourth place, so the team had nothing to be ashamed of with their efforts.
But the motorcycle sales market is changing. New sportbikes aren’t selling that well in their traditional markets, while small-displacement machines are selling like mad in developing countries. It takes a lot less cash to put those bikes through R&D, and it certainly appears that’s where motorcycling’s future is headed, so you can’t blame Yamaha for wanting to get on board.
Of course, this doesn’t mean there will be no Yamahas racing in the World Superbike series; they may put their backing behind a trusted privateer, like Ducati did after they pulled out last year. They’ve promised to keep their YEC racing kits available for R1 and R6 machines as well, making it easier for privateers at every level to keep running Yamahas.
I wonder if this means there is no new R1 for 2012, the 2009-2011 model rleased for another year….