MotoGP 2009: Best bike

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At the end of the first year of the 800cc era in 2007, Valentino Rossi was so disgusted by the woeful performance of Yamaha’s YZR-M1 that he threatened to quit unless the in-line four-cylinder was drastically improved.

Yamaha’s response was swift and decisive and for the second successive season the YZR-M1 won 10 races as the Japanese factory took the Triple Crown of Rider, Team and Constructor titles. 

Lorenzo weighed in with four victories as significant improvements came with developments like a new anti-wheelie system and traction control. Rossi and Lorenzo amassed an impressive tally of 25 podiums between them while Colin Edwards was able to beat a host of factory bikes to finish fifth overall for the satellite Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad.

The year ended though with more warnings from Rossi ringing in the ears of Yamaha’s engineer’s. Yamaha suffered more than any other factory when new cost-cutting engine restrictions came into force for Brno. Riders were only allowed to use five engines for the final seven races.

To ensure reliability, Yamaha sacrificed engine performance. In 2010, an engine will have to last 2500ks with only six engines allowed for the entire campaign, leaving Yamaha facing a major headache to extract more performance from the YZR-M1 with much longer engine life.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt