At the Barcelona round of MotoGP, I sat down with Yamaha Motor Racing managing director Lin Jarvis, ostensibly to talk about the decision by RNF to leave Yamaha and switch to Aprilia for the 2023 season. If you want to read what Jarvis had to say about that, you can read the first part of the interview published yesterday.
After discussing RNF, we moved on to discuss the wider situation with the rider market. Jarvis offered insights into how Yamaha is working with Franco Morbidelli, how surprised he has been by the transformation of Aleix Espargaro into a championship contender, and how Yamaha persuaded Fabio Quartararo to sign on for two more years.
Q: Suzuki’s withdrawal has thrown the rider market to chaos. All of a sudden, Alex Rins, Joan Mir, both top riders, are being discussed as options everywhere. You’ve signed both of your riders for next year, but Franco Morbidelli is not really showing what he showed in previous years. Is there a chance you might let him go? Have you had conversations with Frankie about next year?
Lin Jarvis: No, we have a commitment with Frankie. It’s something we must work on together to get him to rediscover the confidence again with the bike and to be able to perform. So, that’s our mission. In that sense, it’s a bit strange that Frankie has… Last year was not strange because he missed half the season, then he came back. The leg was completely not good. So, it was a very difficult circumstance last year.
But this year, we expected more from him. I think he expected more. He could finally step up to a full season, a new crew chief. The whole package. Everything is fully available, and he hasn’t been able to find his confidence and speed. But, can he do it again? Yes, I think he can. Two years ago he was second in the world championship, on a Yamaha.
So, it’s a fickle world. It really is, here. It doesn’t take much. There’s always new people coming. If you look at the Aprilia now, honestly, I’m very, I would say surprised and impressed, especially by Aleix and Aprilia. What they’re doing is quite formidable. Aleix in the past was a fairly irregular rider with very hot emotions and sometimes known to make rash mistakes and so forth. But this year, he’s just like a machine. So, who could have predicted that that would be the case? That Aprilia, yesterday they were one and two and Aleix is just eight points off the lead in the championship [this interview was recorded at lunchtime on Saturday in Barcelona - DE]. Who could have predicted that? So, things are constantly changing in this paddock.
Now they’ve lost their concessions, so it will be interesting to see whether their progress will continue in the years to come in such a way. Maybe it will. Maybe they could become the new dominant technical package. Certainly having a satellite team now is an interesting step for them because it will be an advantage in the one side because they have now the access to the even younger riders, and they have the four rider's data coming in. But they have no experience managing a satellite program as well. That will be an extra burden on them as well. Next year will be a really important year, but for right now, they’re our main competitors, along with Ducati, of course. So it isn’t easy to predict.
Q: Aleix Espargaro is a prime example of what happens when a rider wins, because this is such a confidence game. Winning that race, being on the podium, it changes something mentally. Riders feel they can breathe, and then they’re so much faster. I suppose that’s what you’re waiting for for Frankie as well. Just for something to click?
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