Yamaha under pressure to deliver gearbox upgrade

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Yamaha is under mounting pressure from Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo to upgrade its year-old seamless shift gearbox to help the factory YZR-M1 pair threaten Marc Marquez’s domination of MotoGP.

Yamaha has raced a seamless shift gearbox since last September, and while Rossi and Lorenzo have been able to downshift without using the clutch in 2014, the system is only seamless on the upshifts.

With Marquez’s ability to make shorter and smoother downshifts with a full seamless gearbox, Rossi and Lorenzo believe Honda has an advantage when braking and entering corners.

Yamaha boss Kouichi Tsuji admitted recently that Yamaha’s gearbox was only seamless on the upshifts and work was on going in Japan to introduce a full seamless transmission in the future.

Tsuji said: “We are pushing hard to develop so the downshifting is seamless but I don’t know when it will be ready.”

Rossi, who won for the first time in 15 months in Misano last time out, said both he and Spanish teammate Lorenzo agree that a full seamless gearbox could help the YZR-M1 be more competitive.

The nine-times world champion said: “Our gearbox works very well when you accelerate but in the braking when you shift down we don’t have the seamless system and it is not ready. We push a lot to have the seamless in braking like Honda because Jorge and me think we can improve a lot. But it is still not ready and I don’t know when it will be. This year I think difficult but I hope as soon as possible.”

Rossi’s victory in Misano was the first time in 10 months that a Yamaha has won after Marquez and Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa triumphed in the opening 12 races.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt