Yamaha confirm new gearbox ‘under development’

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Yamaha has confirmed it does have a new seamless shift gearbox under development in Japan, but gave no indication of when reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will race it.

There has been some doubt about whether a seamless shift system was being worked on by Yamaha, with both Lorenzo and Rossi kept in the dark about development plans for the gearbox during winter testing.

A new gearbox was high on Lorenzo’s wish list to help him successfully defend the MotoGP title this year, but the seamless shift system already employed by Honda and Ducati is not yet available.

Lorenzo was keen to get a seamless shift gearbox to improve stability under acceleration when shifting up through the gears.

Honda has been using the system since the start of 2011 and once again during Yamaha's 2013 team launch in Jerez today Rossi expressed his desire to get the seamless shift system as soon as possible.

The nine-times world champion, who told MCN in a world exclusive interview in Austin last week that he hopes to still be racing aged 40, said: “I think that the seamless gearbox will be very important to improve our bike. It is something that we need but sincerely we don’t know.

"We hope that Yamaha work on the project but we are not sure if it is true or not. And we don’t know when because it is difficult to set-up that type of gearbox. So I don’t know if and when.”

Worryingly for Lorenzo and new teammate Valentino Rossi is the fact that appeared to be no fixed date for when the seamless shift gearbox will be at their disposal.
That remains the case after the issue of the gearbox was raised during the unveiling of the 2013 factory YZR-M1 in Spain earlier today.

Yamaha boss Kouichi Tsuji did finally confirm that the seamless shift gearbox is currently under development, but there was no information on when Lorenzo and Rossi could expect to debut it during the season that kicks off in Qatar on April 7.

Tsuji said: “Honestly speaking we are developing. For sure we are at a disadvantage against our competitors about the transmission but we have a big advantage from both our riders, much better than a seamless gearbox.”

When asked how much he felt a seamless shift gearbox was worth in terms of lap times, Tsuji added: “For example here in Jerez maybe two or three tenths. But the rider is one second.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt