Unless one of its riders can work miracles on Sunday, Yamaha is facing the worst slump in its racing history, after already equalling the longest win drought at the San Marino GP two weekends ago.
Aragon would be the 23rd consecutive race without a Yamaha victory, one more than the dire spell that started at the first race of 1997, and was only ended by Simon Crafar’s single win at Donington Park in 1998. The last victory before that had been by Loris Capirossi at Eastern Creek in Australia, although only because Honda rider Mick Doohan had been knocked off by his teammate Alex Criville comfortably ahead of the Italian. Crafar’s win was followed by another 17-race drought.
At that time, Honda and latterly Suzuki were taking the honors; in the modern era it is Honda and Ducati. And there is no clear sign of relief, in spite of an unexpected mood swing at the pre-race press conference for Maverick Vinales, who said (of his fifth at Misano): “I was really happy, though the race didn’t show our potential. All the time I was on the bike I felt good, and I could ride with my style.”
He added: “The focus for me is to win one race this year.”
Teammate Valentino Rossi is now taking his turn to be downbeat, telling media “it is a miracle” that he was still third overall, and had been second until the last race.
But at Aragon he denied reports that he was pressing Yamaha to make a V4 engine like those of the top bikes of the moment, Honda and Ducati. “The in-line four is Yamaha philosophy, and we don’t need to change,” he said.
By Michael Scott