Yamaha To Pull Out Of World Superbikes At End Of 2011 Season

Yamaha has announced that it has decided to withdraw its factory team from the World Superbike Championship at the end of 2011. The withdrawal comes as a result of a review of Yamaha Motor Europe's marketing activities throughout Europe forced by the rapidly declining motorcycle market throughout the region. The move leaves both Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri without a ride for next season, although in light of the strong performance by both riders in their debut WSBK seasons, finding a new seat should not be difficult.

The announcement came completely out of the blue, with no prior signs that Yamaha was contemplating such a move. Marco Melandri let it slip less than a week ago that he was close to extending his current contract to stay with the team in 2012, suggesting that the news is as much a surprise to the team as it is to the outside world. Yet there had been warning signs that such a move might occur: the Yamaha World Superbike team had been running without a title sponsor for 2011, and there were few indications of a new sponsor stepping in for next season. In contrast to Yamaha's MotoGP team, which is funded by Yamaha's corporate headquarters in Japan, the WSBK effort was run by Yamaha Motor Europe, Yamaha's central distributor and marketing organization inside the European continent. The European motorcycle and scooter market has been hit very hard by the global financial crisis, with sales falling dramatically throughout the region. The combination of falling sales and the lack of an external sponsor meant that there simply was not enough cash to allow the team to continue.

The end of the Yamaha-backed effort does not necessarily mean that there will be no Yamahas on the grid in 2012. When Yamaha announced they would be pulling out of World Supersport at the end of 2009, they made it clear that they were open to supplying bikes and support to a good team. That did not happen in 2010, but Yamaha have provided some backing for the current ParkinGO Yamaha World Supersport team, and have been rewarded for their pains as Chaz Davies leads the WSS championship by 42 points with 4 races left to go. The same construction could save Yamaha's involvement in World Superbikes, if Yamaha can find the right team to work with. Their involvement would, however, be scaled back severely.

Yamaha's withdrawal from World Superbikes cuts the number of manufacturers in WSBK from 7 to 6. That number could even fall to 5, as Alstare team boss Francis Batta is engaged in a tense psychological battle to persuade Suzuki to remain in the championship. Fortunately for WSBK, Ducati looks like returning to the championship with a full-factory team as part of the campaign to promote their brand new Xtreme 1199 Superbike. However, even that program could be under threat if more resources are needed to get Ducati's floundering MotoGP project back on track. These are difficult times for all of the motorcycle World Championships.

The press release announcing Yamaha's withdrawal appears below:

Yamaha Official World Superbike Team withdraws at the end of 2011 season from World Championship

Yamaha Motor Europe N.V. (YME) has decided to withdraw their official Yamaha World Superbike Team at the end of the current season from the FIM Superbike World Championship.

This announcement follows a full strategic review of the Marketing Operations within Europe including all Motorsport activities and takes into account the continuing severe and rapidly changing Powered Two Wheeler market conditions throughout the region.

Due to this decision more resource and focus will now be used for direct "Customer" activities to ultimately add more value to Yamaha ownership and increased Customer Satisfaction.

YME would like to express their sincere thanks and appreciation for the total commitment, support, and passion shown by the extremely professional and dedicated riders and team members both past and present throughout the many years of participation in the FIM Superbike World Championship. YME would also like to thank all the highly valued business partners and suppliers who have in-turn supported the team and in addition would like to thank Infront Motorsports, the FIM Superbike World Championship promoters. YME has chosen this timing of announcement to ensure that all existing obligations are correctly met, and to not limit any opportunities or future planning for all personnel involved.

Riders Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty are currently respectively 3rd and 4th in the overall 2011 FIM Superbike World Championship standings for riders with 4 rounds to go. YME and the team will continue to give its maximum efforts until the end of the existing season to try and regain the World Superbike title which Yamaha also won in 2009.

Yamaha will continue the availability of road racing kit parts, known as YEC Racing kit parts, for its R1 and R6 production models for private teams entering at all racing levels.

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What terrible luck for Marco.
Stick him on an Aprilia next to Biaggi and watch Max's head explode.

If you check the sales figures for Ducati in the US they have steadily been going up the last couple of year. Ducati attributed this after the posting of good results in Q3 & Q4 of 2010 to their wider product offering pointing out such bikes as the Multistrada and Hypermotard.

Sad for race fans. Of course, this could be signs of a long term trend of privateer teams being the dominant players in world racing. That would satisfy any groaners complaining about too much manufacturer clout currently. Guess we'll see when Ducati and Suzuki decide what to do.

Maybe Yamaha looked at Ducati and the fact they're leading the championship with no "official" factory team and said "hmmmmmm..."

ill cannot believe it, Yamaha in WSBK in this year is doing a great job, laverty and melandri are a revelations of the season, unfortunately the damage done by the economic crisis is too hard for yamaha to handle, also the lack of the sponsor for yamaha was another reason for yamaha.

And now Alstare suzuki, well, with suzuki the problem is the lack of support from the factory, they just let haslam on his own for battle against aprilia.

¿Could be possible for Honda to retire from wsbk?, the campaign of Honda in SBK is a total disaster because Honda are now putting all of their efforts in MotoGP, the sponsorship of castrol is not enough for maintain fit the honda team in SBK.

What a bad news for the Motorcycle Community. :/

Just making reference than Yamaha in WSBK dont have private teams for the r1 like ducati, althea is not a factory team but they just bought a very good support package from ducati and the results are clear, they are dominating the championship, am sure than Yamaha will make an 2012 model of the R1 Superbike.

My question is if a Private team will play with the R1 for the next season, there superstock teams using the R1 for the actual season, but the Yamaha factory is the only team using the R1, there no privater team and there no news for a private team for the upcoming season than will select the R1 as the bike of choice at this moment.

Dear T: I'm sure Yamaha will offer a 2012 R1. What I'm not sure is if it will be *new* or will it be the same as the 2009-2011 model. It hasn't been updated for a while.
You bring up a good point, Yamaha may use a privateer team...

I'd put it on seeing ParkinGO Yamaha stepping up to WSBK in 2012.

They were already thinking of doing it - earlier in the season Chaz Davies said as much - with the key being if Giuliano Rovelli could find the necessary sponsorship.

Now that the official team is pulling out, well there might be a couple of cut price R1's to be had.

It looks like Chaz will win the WSS championship and I am quite sure the team will want to step up to a new challenge, which hopefully means we will have a privateer Yamaha team in WSBK for 2012.

I think the sooner we have no factory involvement in WSBK the better. A lot of journos in twitterdom are lamenting the fact that Yamaha are pulling out, but part of me wants BMW and Aprilia to do the same so the series can return to its roots, where privateer teams can cost effectively campaign production bikes, therefore creating a clear distinction between it and GP racing.

Let's get all the factory teams out of superbikes, dumb down the regs to Superstock level and let the privateers return to ruling the roost. It will never match the lustre of MotoGP - but WSBK never had a chance of matching that in any case - yet it should offer (relatively) affordable, production based racing that is sustainable in the long run.

For far too long WSBK and MotoGP were on a collision course and if all the factories leave WSBK it might save the FIM having to make some hard calls in the near future.

WSBK should be devoid of factory teams b/c all parts (racing or stock) should be sold on the open market. If every part is sold on the open market, and the tuning rules are friendly to privateer teams, no factory squads are required. Believe it or not, the MSMA actually knew this to be the case going into the 1000cc era. Superbikes must be halo products that represent a larger lineup of sportbikes. Surprisingly, it was the Flamminis who understood that the superbike brand couldn't be diluted for profit.

Predictably, as with so many things in motorcycling, we got the worst of both worlds--prototype racing parts, no homologation specials, and diluted superbike brands. The arrangement hasn't generated any positive long term consequences.

Though the situation is ugly in WSBK, Superstock regulations will not improve anything. Superstock further dilutes SBKs, and it encourages the manufacturers to equip road bikes with race equipment. Sounds sexy, but it's just a waste of money.

Imo, they have to go back to homologation specials. It fixes damn near every problem in the superbike racing industry, but it can't happen until they write some really good homologation papers b/c WSBK can't revisit some of the 750cc-era homologation problems. Homologation papers have to stipulate things like valve-count per cylinder, maximum bore measurements, static compression ratio, type of cam drive, number of fuel injectors, max fuel pressure, number of electronics sensors, function of electronics sensors, and most importantly a rev limit and a single displacement for all competitors. The rulebook would then be simplified to allow bolt-ons, basic chassis mods, and simple engine tuning like fuel mapping and cam modifications.

Solves almost every problem, imo. SBKs are production bikes again. Electronics are dealt with. National series have almost identical rules and bikes. Superbike is no longer a diluted concept. Also, pursue other concepts like engine scaling (750cc triple supersports, 500cc supertwins), and motorcycling might be onto something that pulls the industry out of its funk. With the Western debt crisis, the yen ain't getting any cheaper. If they want profits in Europe and the US, it's time to go upmarket, and drastically reduce expenses in the middleweight and entry-level sportbike segments. No time to waste.

I agree with most of this, except that instead of displacement and revs I'd limit total bore area and average piston speed. That would let different configurations compete on an equal footing.

If you blend a piston surface area regulation with mean piston velocity regulation, all of the manufacturers would probably reach roughly the same optimal design, but if that design were production irrelevant, no one would play. Suppose a 1600cc V-twin was best. I'm not sure Ducati would build and sell such a design. If the best engine was an 800cc four cylinder engine, the costs would skyrocket, and WSBK would end up just like MotoGP. Yes, peak horsepower would be roughly the same for everyone, but that isn't sufficient to balance the bikes. Peak horsepower is roughly the same for the 1200cc Ducati and the 1000cc Japanese bikes, but the Duc still needs an air restrictor to even things out.

Imo, the regulations have to mimic the production market in some way. Revs and displacement are more critical than piston surface area and piston velocity. Revs destroy engines and alter service intervals. Displacement affects insurance, licensing, emissions, and product identity.

I would love to see a free-for-all, but the MSMA would steer clear.

the regulations have to mimic the production market in some way. Revs and displacement are more critical than piston surface area and piston velocity. Revs destroy engines and alter service intervals. Displacement affects insurance, licensing, emissions, and product identity.

Ducati already sells their 1200 directly against the 1000's, so your market relevance argument doesn't work. So far as I'm aware the insurance etc break-points are at around 650cc

For service intervals, you'll find piston speed and bore area are more relevant than rpm. That's why a 600 can rev to 16000 and have longer service intervals than a Ducati redlined at ? 11k?

For performance, it's bore area. That determines valve area, which determines how much air you can move per second, which determines power up to some efficiency limits due to the time to burn across a very wide, thin combustion chamber. That's why F1 pushed up towards 2:1 bore to stroke, and it's why the new Ducati will have 112mm bores... that gives the same piston area as a 4 with 80mm bores... which happens to be what the BMW has...

Plus your facts are wrong: the Duc has less hp than the 1000's, as demonstrated by lower top speed. Besides, if the Ducati has such an advantage, why is there only 1 in the top 5? It seems to me the current balance is just about correct.

All true, but none of it is within the scope of the discussion. Displacement is more relevant for WSBK manufacturers than no displacement. Revs at fixed displacement (with max bore-stroke if you look at my original post) is more relevant than mean piston speed at a fixed piston surface area.

"Revs destroys engines" is in regards to the fact that a 78mm 800cc four would be just as legal as a 78mm 1200cc four with piston surface area rules. Displacement is more relevant b/c manufacturers use displacement to brand sportbikes (not piston surface area or even bore) even if they don't agree on the perfect displacement. Middleweights are known as 600s not 67s. They are considered to be inferior (in terms of performance) to 1000s. The Ducati is not known as a 106.

The Ducati lacks top end power b/c they have installed an air restrictor. If they took the air restrictor off, Ducati would have an unfair advantage.

"Let's get all the factory teams out of superbikes, dumb down the regs to Superstock level and let the privateers return to ruling the roost."

Sounds like AMA all over again. I don't see how this will improve anything. It will just dumb it down to an uninteresting level. Has anyone actually saved any money from the GP cost cutting trends? I doubt it. It would make an interesting interview topic.

Well of course it would reduce costs as far as the bike's concerned, but obviously logistical costs will be pretty close to what they are now. And there's no reason why it would make things less interesting from a racing perspective.

We just have to hope that Infront, and the future rights holders of the series, are better at managing change than DMG.

Many people are keen to use the Superstock label for AMA SBK, even journalists who know better, but AMA SBK is not Superstock.

AMA SBK works like World Supersport. The engine components are mainly stock, but the engines are heavily modified. Compression is free in AMA SBK, cams can be swapped for modified duration, and manufacturers can homologate aftermarket pistons if they are so inclined. Superstock is just as it sounds--stock with minor tweaks like cam timing.

People are anxious to use the Superstock label b/c they are angry that some of the outwardly visible mods are gone. No more gold Ohlins fork tubes. No more racing swingarms. I believe the most trick aftermarket wheels are still restricted as well. BSB Evo have gone the opposite direction. Most of the engine mods are banned (Superstock) and they will probably use the rev limit to performance balance. However, all of the visible mods will remain since BSB Evo uses WSBK rules for chassis.

I'm sure DMG will be excited if Evo works b/c DMG are even more eager to performance balance SBKs than MSVR. I don't like the trend, but the Japanese did this to themselves. They wanted Superbikes to become commodities for everyone. Now they have lost control of how their products are raced in every major production racing series.

It's surprising that the factory Yamaha MotoGP & SBK teams do NOT have title sponsors. The MotoGP team won the triple crown last year, whilst the SBK team is consistently a front running effort.

It's easy to blame the flow on effects of the GFC, but if you look at the global market, stocks are back at an all time high, I think the issue here is more deep rooted than simply the GFC.

It appears as though "motorcycle racing" isn't pushing the brand as well as F1 or other sporting events that seem to capture sponsorship dollars much easier.

Just because a company's stock is high doesn't mean they are spending money. Actually, its probably high in part because they have high cash reserves from not spending any money (and sponsorship is all about spending money). Some of the banks are bouncing back (or improving) but the commercial real estate market is in the tanks because the banks aren't lending any of the money they have made (or received from the government).

Obviously they took the decision geared towards survival of the R1 species and its dwindling support group. The crossplane crank bike was never a smash hit in any market niche,globally.
I seriously doubt that privateer teams will throw sponsorship money at it next year either.
As for the bigger picture, the GPC and Infont need to have a look at combining the swiftly declining spectacle of Two wheel racing.
CRT in GP next year will only exacerbate issues.
Raising debt ceilings = more debt and ultimately,catastrophic debt implosion.
Yamaha Europa have seen the light. Austerity is the name of their current game.
The move to 1000cc in GP next year is plain stupid.
Ever since it was first mooted, I protested.
Witness the current GP season. Closest it's been since 2006. If it's working,don't fix it. Save a buck.
As for SBK,I'm also of the opinion that if a street bike is available to the public, it must be homologated with basic mods. Loose the peripherals that make it road legal and thats it. To hell with capacity and configuration. Race on Sunday,buy on Monday. Freemarket and less government intervention is what SBK should be about.
TYRES...ditto. The 'black magic' governs the stupendously expensive electronics at the end of the day. The electronics are dictated to by what the rubber says in conjunction with the idiotic fuel limits. Digital times. 1+1 = 0 ..BAH.
Always preferred arithmetic which concluded 1-1 = 0. The old arithmetic sums are sure adding up now...Global economy.
SBK needs to get back to fundamentals. The current 'Quasi' Prototype class is bunk. It's as stupid as suggesting a lighter rider should carry ballast across any class. Maybe the Japanese are seeing it in that light whilst I hear the Nuclear Fukushima business is taking a turn for the worse.

I hate to break the news to you, but even though americans are buying the multistradas and the Diavels, the Ducati crowd is Motogp crazy. At indianapolis, they quite possibly were the most prevalent brand on or in the parking lots, and of course "Ducati Island". I have yet to find a Ducati owner in the states with the "hate rossi" mentality i see consistently from the posters on this site.
At the same time, Hayden is the guy they like--because he's american.

SO, has rossi caused a surge of sales? How would you know? Ducati Owners are buying a brand, from bicycles to eyewear. They don't necessarily buy a rossi copy. Much like the only replica bike to ever really sell is the repsol, because its that good LOOKING.

For the record I ride a speed triple which stomps all over most every ducati I know. On my triumph, despite selling them selling more and more bikes of all kinds, i am constantly asked, "are they still making those?" That is what racing in the big bike leagues gets you. recognition you exist as a manufacturer.

Edward Turner, the real guy behind triumph, and John Bloor, the new guy behind triumph, seem to share in the belief that racing is the kiss of death to street bike sales.
There is some truth to that, as the more successful triumph got in racing, the worse they did in sales. Meanwhile, the "you meet the nicest people on a honda" program was laying the groundwork for the death of british motorcycling.
Norton-The manx dominated, yet sales declined.
Indian- The big base Sport Scout was dominating in american racing sales died
Greeves- What can I say there.
The list goes on and on. Ducati is the only brand that has survived (so far) with racing as basis for its sales. It costs too much to be at the cutting edge, and you can only stay tehre for a little while. Once the japs wiped out the europeans in the late 70's motorcycling development went into hibernation for about 10 years. I dont count the amazing 500gp period as they weren't selling bikes based on that format.