WSBK 2016: Guintoli and Lowes on the official Yamaha R1s
Whispered for a few months, Yamaha’s return to World Superbike in 2016 has just been confirmed. A lot of good news for Les Bleus fans … and for those of Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes, who will be driving the official R1s next year !
The last official participation of Yamaha R1 in World Superbike dates back to 2011, when this season – dominated by – the second and third places of the .
The readers of Site – who, as everyone knows, have a little more RAM than the others – no doubt remember the two "rookies" – the two "blues", if you prefer! – had completed their solid 2011 campaign with a .
Before them, two other official R1 riders had already stood out: the exceptional Ben Spies had become and the promising Cal Crutchlow had won his ticket to MotoGP thanks to his "title" of best rookie .
Yamaha in WSBK: successes in 2007, 2009 … and 2016 ?
Despite these excellent results – to which must be added the only "constructor" title of the Iwata firm won in, Yamaha decided at the end of 2011 to put an end to its official engagement, the Japanese preferring to concentrate their efforts and resources on MotoGP….
A year later, however, fans of the Blues – many in France where Yamaha is number one in – had regained hope of seeing R1s run at the highest level, through the Yakhnich team titled with Sam Lowes..
"Our goal is to bring our two pilots (Lowes and Leonov, NDLR) at the highest level, even the Superbike World Championship. That’s why we signed a long-term contract with them ", predicted Alexander Yakhnich.
True to his word, the big Russian boss is well mounted in the upper category … but with another brand and another driver (read)! This collaboration will eventually fall apart, especially because of World Superbike.
At the end of 2014, the announcement of the arrival on the market of a brand new R1 could lead to believe in the return of the brand to tuning forks in World Superbike from 2015. But here again, the supporters were disappointed: like Ducati with its 1199 Panigale, Yamaha preferred to train in Superstock (read).
Also engaged in the FIM Superstock Cup and in the Italian Superbike Championship, Sylvain Barrier had told us about his plans: to have a good 2015 and, potentially, to go up in World Superbike the following season (read our)…
Finally, the "new" R1 of 2015 will indeed launch itself in the race – for the titles WSBK "pilot" and "manufacturer" – in 2016, but it is another Sylvain who will pilot it … A Sylvain on Aprilia RSV4 : Guintoli, who else ?!
"I knew from the start of the season that it was going to be very hard to defend the title"Guinters" told WorldSBK.com yesterday, "but I’m glad he’s going to Johnny because he’s been working really hard for a long time and everything has been going well for him this year".
Spent this winter on Jonathan Rea’s Honda Fireblade precisely, our n ° 1 in the discipline had a hard time and was forced to cede his throne to the ruthless "JR", crowned last weekend in Spain (read our ).
"It made me sad (laughs), but I was also happy. Time flies … My title will stay with me forever. I guess refocusing on the future is also a good thing", concluded Mister Guintoli that his contract with Honda Pata prevented him from announcing his signature with Yamaha in 2016…
Officialized by Yamaha Motor Europe this morning, the transfer of the Anglo-Drôme pilot (originally from Montelimar and living not far from Donington Park) is doubled by that of Alex Lowes, who has also struggled a lot this season at the controls of a motorcycle somewhat "outdated" (everything is relative, since it is): the Suzuki GSX-R 1000.
Guintoli and Lowes: two extremely motivated drivers
Sam Lowes’ twin brother – Sam, the Supersport champion supposed to ride Superbike with the Yakhnich team! – will drive the second official R1 aligned by Yamaha but will not change team since it is the Crescent team that will be responsible for preparing the bikes.
"Yamaha Motor Europe will retain responsibility for strategy and technical development as well as rider recruitment, while Crescent’s highly experienced staff will take care of running team operations on each round of the championship.", specify the managers of the Japanese brand.
Restrained this year by concerns about the development – of electronics, in particular – of his "Gex", Alex Lowes intends to improve his results in 2016 and shine as much as his compatriots Rea, Sykes, Davies and Haslam who currently trust the four first places in the WSBK 2015 ranking.
To do this, the 2013 British Superbike champion is betting on the Yamaha, whose first results in competition are encouraging: "As the 2015 season draws to a close, the YZF-R1 has already won many victories including the very first AMA Road America Championship and thanks to MotoGP stars Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith as well as the five-time winner of the All Japan Superbike , Katsuyuki Nakasuga", emphasizes his future employer.
"In Britain, the R1 is in contention for the British Superbike Championship title and has already won the Superbike title in Poland and the Superstock title in France.", outbid the Japanese."Yamaha is also leading the FIM CEV Repsol and finished second in the FIM Endurance World Championship on with the French team GMT94 Yamaha".
It remains to be seen whether the Iwata Superbike will work just as well in its World Superbike configuration, closer to the Superstock in terms of engine since this year but still very sharp in terms of preparation for the cycle part (read).
"We took a year to gain experience with the new R1 in different championships where the bike has already proven its potential, with an incredible victory at the Suzuka 8 Hours and very positive results from our official teams throughout the Europe", insists Eric de Seynes, CEO of Yamaha Motor Europe.
"We are now ready to return to the global stage and I am delighted to have found at Crescent the same values of professionalism, attention to detail and passion for victory that we share.", underlines the big boss.
Sylvain Guintoli is also undoubtedly convinced that the English team is an excellent choice since it is with the men of Paul Denning that the n ° 50 had made a thunderous start to the season in BSB 2009: four podiums including a victory in four races.
The Frenchie had unfortunately seen his title hopes cut short by Josh Brookes (currently leading the BSB 2015 on the R1!), But a solid end to the season had nonetheless opened the doors to the Suzuki Alstare team then engaged in the WSBK..
Finally, the last good news for Mister Guintoli: he will not have to change the decoration of his Shark helmet because Pata, title sponsor of the Honda team this year, will join in 2016 alongside the new official Yamaha Crescent team. A team to follow closely next year, on Site of course: stay connected !
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