Yamaha Unveil 2011 MotoGP Livery - No Title Sponsor Here, Either

At a hot and humid Sepang circuit, on the eve of the second Sepang test, Yamaha unveiled the official color scheme for the 2011 MotoGP season, and as expected, the bikes will be carrying Yamaha corporate colors, with no sign of a title sponsor. Yamaha's factory team had been linked to deals with Malaysian budget airline Air Asia and petroleum giant Petronas, but though Petronas is continuing as a subsponsor, they have not expanded their role to take on the role of title sponsor.

Naturally, Yamaha are putting a positive spin on the lack of a title sponsor, preferring to focus on the fact that 2011 will be Yamaha's 50th season in Grand Prix racing, and use this as an opportunity to market the brand. But at the Sepang launch, Yamaha Racing's managing director Lin Jarvis told the media that the team was still open to a title sponsor, should the opportunity present itself.

The lack of a title sponsor for Yamaha in both MotoGP and World Superbikes is surely a disappointment for both the factory and for motorcycle racing in general. And yet there may be very good reasons for electing to run in corporate colors. It is clear from reliable paddock gossip that Yamaha had parties interested in sponsoring the bike, the real issue being the amount of money on offer. While some teams are rumored to have sold title sponsorship for a pitiful sum - in one case, a six figure sum, paddock gossip insists - accepting a much lower amount as a title sponsor makes it much more difficult to negotiate a more appropriate sum in following seasons. It also undercuts the market, undermining the negotation positions of all of the factories in the future.

Without inside knowledge, it is hard to know just how much these factors influenced Yamaha's decision to run without a title sponsor, and what sums of money were involved. But there is also undeniably an upside for Yamaha in electing to run a corporate livery: with Jorge Lorenzo running the #1 plate - something which Valentino Rossi steadfastly refused to do - Yamaha can at least use the Spaniard's 2010 title as a marketing tool, using images of a clearly-marked Yamaha with a great big #1 on it to sell their machines. Cynics may point out that when Valentino Rossi was riding for the factory, they had no need of the #1 plate, but given that Rossi has elected to leave Yamaha, the Japanese factory have to make the best of what they have. 

Below is the official press release, and photos of the livery (photos courtesy of Yamaha Racing):


Yamaha Factory Racing unveiled its new livery today, a day in advance of testing tomorrow at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. The team, which starts the season defending its third consecutive triple crown victory, fields a new rider in 2010 Rookie of the Year Ben Spies alongside the defending World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. The 2011 YZR-M1 features a Yamaha corporate blue colour scheme incorporating the iconic Yamaha speed block design.

The press conference, held at 1800 local time at the Sepang International circuit, included welcome speeches by Lin Jarvis, new team director Massimo Meregalli, and team manager Wilco Zeelenberg. They were joined by Shigeto Kitagawa, Masahiko Nakajima, Kouichi Tsuji and riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies.

Tomorrow's test, running from 22nd to 24th February is the second of three pre-season tests, with the third and final at Qatar on the 13th March in advance of the opening round of the 2011 championship the following week.

"I'm very happy to be here again preparing to start another season riding with Yamaha," said Jorge Lorenzo. "Winning the World Championship last season was an incredible feeling, but now we start again. I have a great crew and with the hard work of the Japanese engineers over the winter I feel confident we can fight for more success this year."

"We worked really hard last year to earn the seat with the Yamaha Factory team so it's a great feeling to be here alongside Jorge," commented Ben Spies. "It's obviously a special year for Yamaha with the 50th Anniversary of GP racing celebrations so I'm really stoked to be part of it. The bike's feeling really good, we've got a few days more of testing now to really shake it down and fine tune the set up and we'll be ready to go. I'm loving the corporate blue colour scheme, I'm a big fan of the design."

"I'm proud to be here for the 2011 Yamaha Factory Racing launch and the start of a new era for the team," said Lin Jarvis, Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing Srl. "This is an important year for us being our 50th anniversary of involvement in Grand Prix racing and we start the season not only with the reigning MotoGP World Champion but also welcoming Ben Spies, last year's Rookie of the Year to the Factory Team. It's fitting that we will line up for the start of this special year in our corporate colours."

Lorenzo's M1

Spies' M1

Corporate liveries: Here's hoping for a bumblebee at Laguna and Indy

A commentator's nightmare: Spies and Lorenzo bear a worrying resemblance head-on

How to tell the Yamahas apart, Pt 1: Jorge = Red + White

How to tell the Yamahas apart, Pt 2: Ben = Sky Blue

Telling the Yamahas apart: It's all in the legs

There will still be two separate teams at Yamaha: Lorenzo and his manager Wilco Zeelenberg ...

And Spies, reunited with his WSBK manager Massimo Meregalli

Why didn't Monster step up to the MotoG team? Because Jorge already has Rockstar as a personal sponsor

Ben would have been fine, just like last year

Red, White and Blue: the colors of the French Tricolor

Lone Star

There should be a lot less animosity in the Yamaha garage for 2011

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Not that it matters in the least, but it is interesting to see the M1 switch from a Termignoni "muffler" to an Akrapovic item. Akra looks to be taking over the moto world...

And sky blue? Really?

Whenever I try to identify a particular color, my wife gives me one of those looks. I've tried to nail it as best I could, but I might be very wrong...

I was questioning Ben Spies' choice of leathers colors, not your description of it, David. I couldn't come up with a better name for it, at least not without looking at a box of Crayolas. Maybe periwinkle?!?

I like the clean look of the new bikes. It will also be easy to see the numbers unlike some of the others.

Clean and fast - a good combination.

(We're getting closer to Qatar every day!)

I think this could be a cool opportunity for Yamaha to do wildcard Livery Charity Sponsorships for individual races when they still do not have a title sponsor. IE take a worthy, non-profit, charitable cause, like hunger in Darfur or whatever, and give that cause free advertising and have a special livery for it. Of course, they'd have to make it very clear that Yamaha is not receiving any $$ to do this, but instead are doing it purely out of philanthropy, and then they can avoid what David's talking about with "not selling yourself out cheap" to avoid poorly marketing themselves in the future.

... the thing with the fan's pic's on the bike last year was pretty cool. Maybe they'll do it again.

Not sure that anyone has noticed, or it has been pointed out before, but the number 1 on Lorenzo's bike is made of the initials JL. Ominous...

When I looked at the '11 M1, they reminded me of my buddy's 04 R6. Also pretty inline with the WSBK YZF-R1 running almost the same livery and the universal Akra on the M1, R1 and R6, it's almost like Termi on a Duc...

Honestly, I can say Yamaha dun look too bad at all, from my heart. Still need some time to get used to Rossi's GP11 but I surely like Nicky's GP11! Spies' Sky Blue ~ Baby Blue is not that bad.

Can't wait for the season to start!

I'm really happy to see that Lorenzo's wearing the number one plate, but it's not exactly a 1 that is easy to recognise as such from any distance, is it? Ben's 11 is a welcome number plate between all the horrible graffiti in the GP's these days, though. But it's a tell-tale sign about the financial situation that he has to use his Rizla Suzuki gloves from 2008.

Come to that, we shouldn't even be talking about how to tell the riders apart by certain colors on their helmets, legs or gloves. We should have proper number plates. The races are very hard to follow these days, especially from the grandstands at the tracks themselves. And that after you paid a lot of money to get on them, and even more money to buy an expensive official program with useless rider number lists.

Nice looking exhausts, much better than the plasticky Termignoni's! Not that it matters that much, they would even use a VFR1200-style exhaust if it would make them go any faster, I assume.