Yamaha YZF-R1, YZF 1000 R (VT: Nurburgring)


Yamaha YZF-R1, YZF 1000 R (VT: Nurburgring)

Yamaha YZF-R1 versus YZF 1000 R Thunderace: enough is never enough

No Japanese currently builds such uncompromising, radical sports motorcycles as Yamaha. And the fans love Yamaha for it, literally tear the YZF-R1 out of the dealers’ hands. At Yamaha, however, this does not mean that older, but well-deserved employees are simply kicked out, i.e. removed from the program.
No, they are given a new purpose. This is what happened in the case of the Thunderace. Rising as a star in the super sports sky at the end of 1995, it is now experiencing its second spring. Yamaha has recently started calling them “Supersport Tourers”, but over the years it has failed to put the “Ace” on appropriate first tires. And so it rolls into the Eifel as ever on the Metzeler ME Z2, a tire that is more known for mileage than hyper grip. In order to create equal opportunities with its super sporty sister and because the development in tire construction has progressed rapidly in recent years, the Thunderace gets a pair of the Metzeler ME Z3 Racing, which has meanwhile been homologated by Yamaha.
And it helps. A real confidence-building measure, these new tires. Grip in all situations and a lot of feeling for what the asphalt holds ready under you. And that’s what it takes, because after all, you don’t drive just any motorcycle over the Nordschleife, but a power pack with a full 146 hp rated power, with the R1, at least on paper, there should be four more.
Power in abundance, as a rule, the last gear is enough on these muscular limbs to do very lively laps around the Nordschleife. In both cases, however, this almost unrestrained force needs to be used in a well-dosed manner.
After a few kilometers it becomes clear: In the R1 super sports car, the R does not stand for racing, but primarily for one? Respect. This Yamaha demands it like no other production motorcycle? and after a realistic self-assessment. The throttle of the R1 is definitely not for gross motorists. Because there is a fine line between the wonderfully exhilarating feeling of being catapulted into apparent weightlessness by this fabulously powerful four-cylinder and a flash of adrenaline combined with liters of sweat on your forehead.
And that despite the successful facelift for the 2000 version: smoother use of power, better shiftability, softer basic set-up of the chassis, a comfortable, continuous seating position for all testers and improved wind protection. All of this makes the model athlete easier to drive. Nevertheless, the R1 keeps asking you the question: Who is the boss here, you or me? ”In short, it takes a very experienced driver with a lot of Nordschleife experience. But even racing professionals like Lindner or Sebileau have a lot of trouble keeping the R1’s front wheel, which rises up into the sky, under control, in order to fully exploit the potential of this fascinating Yamaha. Its extreme power-to-weight ratio clearly sets the limit on the Nordschleife.
On the other hand, after their turn on the Thunderace, it is precisely those men who soberly discover that time is simply not standing still. No, she’s a super athlete YZF 1000 R certainly no longer from today’s point of view. From a racing driver’s point of view, 29 kilograms of extra weight are of course worlds apart. So it is hardly surprising that the supersport touring bike is not as agile and manageable through the Eifel landscape as its well-trained sister. To make matters worse, the Thunderace is more uncomfortable. Because of her bulbous tank, you sit on her with knees bent wide. In return, it can offer you something that you can use a good deal of, not only on the Nordschleife: serenity. Knocking the handlebars, an ugly side effect on the R1, is not an issue for the Ace. Very full, very safe, it glides around the course, of all the sports tourers present it offers without question the largest chassis reserves. Which gives your driver enough time to concentrate on the essentials: the route. And that’s why it is undoubtedly easier for a Nordschleife greenhorn to walk quickly on this gentle giant than on the R1.

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