Yamaha Announces 4-stroke GP Bike

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Since 1998 Yamaha - alongside the GPMA (now MSMA), the FIM and MotoGP promoter Dorna - has been a strong advocate of changes to motorcycle Grand Prix regulations to allow for the introduction of four-stroke racing in 2002.

The strategy behind Yamaha's support of the move to four-stroke prototype racing is to directly link the technological advancements made in Grand Prix to the development of road-going products, thereby providing an optimum return on its racing investment. At the same time Yamaha aims to create an exciting new experience for race fans all over the world in line with the corporate mission to generate "Kando."

As a result of these objectives Yamaha is pleased to announce details of its new four-stroke prototype machine...

Code-named the OW-M1 (the official name will be released at a later stage), the 2002 race machine will run an all-new, in-line, four-cylinder powerplant with Yamaha's trademark five-valve head design. The chassis comes straight from the latest YZR500, which is widely acknowledged as providing riders with unrivaled levels of handling and control.

Many configurations were considered when deciding an engine format for this chassis, with Yamaha concluding that an in-line-four layout offers the best balance of compactness, outright performance and power delivery. The "M1" engine is also considerably lighter and more compact than that of the current YZF-R7 superbike.

An intensive testing program is well under way for OW-M1, which has already demonstrated quicker acceleration and higher top speed figures than the current YZR500.

Marlboro Yamaha Team's Max Biaggi had his first test of the bike at the end of last year:"It was good to be able to test Yamaha's four-stroke so early and give feedback and direction to the development process. The bike felt good and easy to ride, although it's a completely new style of engine and I'll have to adapt my style to suit it."

Teammate Carlos Checa, a seasoned four-stroke pilot who trains regularly on his race-prepared YZF-R1, was equally impressed by the experience of his test:

"It was very exciting to test the four-stroke and I was very impressed. It's really compact like the 500, but the increased engine braking and traction are quite noticeable. It handles very well and has a wide power range. It sounds good too!"

Yamaha's Motorsports Division Chief, Mr. Yoshiharu Nakayama, himself a four-stroke development engineer, has been closely involved with the venture since the outset:

"We are testing both inside and outside Japan already and have an exhaustive development program planned to be ready for the 2002 season. I am optimistic and confident that we will have a highly competitive new bike for next year."

Further news of the new prototype will follow soon.

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