Yamaha – who last won the MotoGP title with Quartararo in 2021 and finished second with the Frenchman last season – used its ‘3S Dealer Meeting’ as a platform for the unveiling, with Quartararo and Morbidelli joined on stage by Yamaha Racing Director Lin Jarvis, President of Yamaha Motor Racing, Takahiro Sumi and MotoGP Team Director, Massimo Meregalli.
Entering the fifth year of a newly renewed Monster title sponsorship, the latest version of the factory team’s familiar black, blue and green livery features slight cosmetic tweaks like a ‘camouflage’ effectÒ and the removal of Ò red around the ENEOS branding at the base of the fairing to Ò the new Aldi-Drudi design.
But there are bigger changes elsewhere in the Yamaha MotoGP project and all eyes will be on the top speed charts when the 2023 engine hits the track for testing at Sepang next month.
After struggling on the straights in recent seasons, Yamaha brought in ex-Ferrari and Toyota Formula 1 engine designer Luca Marmorini to squeeze more power out of the M1, a key requirement for Quartararo’s contract extension to end of 2024.
But engine performance suffered an unexpected setback when the previously impressive new design failed to deliver a speed boost at last November’s Valencia test, increasing the tension ahead of Sepang…
Last year’s meager engine performance left Quartararo frustrated because he couldn’t ‘fight’ as he watched a huge 91-point lead over Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia evaporate in the second half of the season.
Nonetheless, the 23-year-old’s three wins and eight podiums put him in a class of his own compared to the other Yamaha riders, the best of whom was Morbidelli, just 17th in the World Championship.
It will be a pivotal year for Morbidelli’s career as the 28-year-old Italian is out of contract at the end of this season and is under pressure to resume the form that has taken him to three wins and his second title as a satellite SRT driver in the field year 2020.
With the move from RNF to Aprilia, Quartararo and Morbidelli will be the only Yamaha riders on the grid. Suzuki’s departure also leaves the M1 as the only engine with an inline4 rather than a V4 layout as used by Ducati, Aprilia, KTM and Honda.
The next unveiling of the 2023 MotoGP squad will be held by Gresini Ducati on Saturday 21st January.
The Sepang Test takes place on February 10-12, followed by the second and final pre-season outing in Portimao on March 11-12.