Satellite Yamaha boss Herve Poncharal remains confident that Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith will be racing a new seamless shift gearbox when the 2014 campaign kicks off in Qatar next month.
When winter testing resumed at the Sepang track in Malaysia earlier this month, Tech 3 continued with Yamaha’s standard transmission, with Smith eighth and rookie Espargaro ninth on the final timesheets.
Factory Yamaha duo Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi have been racing the seamless shift gearbox since the Misano round last September. And almost ever since there has been constant speculation about when the new system will filter down to the French-based Tech 3 outfit.
The seamless shift gearbox improves stability on upshifting and has been further updated for 2014, with Lorenzo and Rossi now no longer having to use the clutch to downshift.
Tech 3 boss Poncharal is hoping the new gearbox will be made available for the second test in Sepang that will start on February 26.
But if it does not appear then Poncharal still believes Yamaha will deliver the system for the season opening night race in Doha on March 23.
Poncharal told MCN: “Since we saw the seamless gearbox arrive with the factory team in Misano and we saw how good it is for the race and the lap time, our guys were pushing to get it. But it was very clear for 2013 there was no chance. In Valencia we had some talks but Yamaha management were quite positive. The Japanese will never say yes if it is 99.9%, so we were never told it is 100% yes. We didn’t know what to expect and through the winter when we asked we didn’t get an answer. I just told my guys to wait and see in Sepang. We don’t have it there but that doesn’t mean we won’t have it for the season and I am quite confident we will have it for the start of the year. We have good support from Yamaha and they are doing what they can. What we have now is a really good package and the gearbox is not a worry at the moment. Pol is very positive and he said he doesn’t care what gearbox he has for this test. And Bradley is playing the game. When it gets nearer to the first race I am sure they will be pushing more but we don’t have it yet and we will see what happens for Sepang 2. I am quite confident we will have something for the gearbox then. I know Yamaha and they confirmed at Sepang 1 that they want to give us the best material possible, but the priority is always the factory team and we understand that.”