The official announcement by Yamaha yesterday of Romain Febvre joining Jeremy Van Horebeek in factory race team for the MXGP class in 2015 confirms that Italian squad helmed by former world champion Michele Rinaldi will not be continuing their development of the YZ250FM in Grands Prix.
Through Yamaha Rinaldi Research and Development (YRRD) the team and organisation had been working with a 250cc prototype since 2010 (with Gautier Paulin and Christophe Charlier as riders) and were using fuel injection technology on the motorcycle several seasons before the new 2014 model launched last summer. The ’14 YZ250F involved a brand new engine concept based on its 450cc bigger brother.
Where will the brand therefore concentrate their efforts in MX2? It is believed that Steve Dixon’s British Bike it Cosworth team are close to a switch away from ‘blue’ and to Kawasaki, ending an association that stretches back more than two decades.
Dixon refined the previous (carburetted) YZ250F over a period of years and to a point where it was considered the fastest 250cc in the gate; a point highlighted by Dean Ferris’ holeshots at the 2013 Motocross of Nations. His evolution of the 2014 engine (refining the gearbox, fabricating prototype parts and raising the rev ceiling) meant a difficult term in 2014 where Max Anstie encountered reliability issues even if the team were the sole Grand Prix winners for Yamaha in the category once more with victory in Belgium in August.
It is now believed that Yamaha Motor Europe could distribute their resources across several bases in MX2 and also drip feed into European competition in the wake of race wins in EMX250 in 2014 and also EMX125 with their YZ125 motorcycle. The Febvre press release states: ‘Yamaha Motor Europe will spread their influence and offer significant support to several private teams to continue development on the vastly promising technical platform of the latest YZ250F in MX2.’
Although no names have been officially mentioned this is highly likely to involve the Kemea team who have ejected 2014 riders Petar Petrova and Luke Styke in favour of Benoit Paturel and 19-year-old Belgian Damon Graulus as well as Brent Vandoninck in EMX250.
Recent photos by Team Manager Tim Mathys on social media indicate that the Standing Construct squad – with Valentin Guillod and Julien Lieber – will be Yamaha’s other MX2 wing. The Standing Construct/Yamaha rumour has been circulating the paddock since the summer and the team’s strong links with Yves Demaria (who won the MX2 title for Yamaha) were apparently an asset in their third brand change in as many years.