The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team came to the Sepang test fearing that the new MotoGP engine-change limit, which allows just six engines for the 18-round season, would mean a performance drop for the 2010-spec YZR-M1.
Instead, all four MotoGP manufacturers seem to have at least maintained their 2009 engine output levels - while Tech 3 team manager Herve Poncharal insists the latest M1 powerplant is the most powerful 800cc engine his team has ever had.
“The big news for us at this test is the engine,” Poncharal told Crash.net
. “We didn't know what to expect with the new rules. I think everybody was a bit scared we would have to be down on power to get reliability, because six engines for one season is a big mission for the factories.
“But when Colin came in, after his first run, he had a big ear-to-ear smile. Then, when he and Ben met with Valentino, the first thing they said was 'f**k! What an engine!' I think everybody at Yamaha is very happy.
“This is the truth: The new engine is better
than the engine we had at the start
of the 2009 season, when engines could be changed at any time. I can tell you that it is the best 800cc engine we have ever had at Tech 3 and it also suits both Ben and Colin's riding style.
“Because the engine has more torque, more bottom end, it feels more like a 990cc. And because of the strength of the engine the chassis is turning better as well.”
Edwards, who was third fastest on the first day of testing and seventh on the final day, confirmed Poncharal's verdict.
“The big bonus of the test has been the performance of the engine,” said Edwards. “Putting it simply it seems they have made the engine more powerful and
more reliable. Accelerating off the corner was a problem last season but with the new engine it is a strong point... Everything seems to work. Let's go racing.”
MotoGP first introduced engine-change restrictions, designed to reduce maintenance and running costs, for the last seven rounds of the 2009 season, after which Edwards frequently complained about a lack of performance relative to his rivals.
“Colin has been following the main opposition here, and this is a track where engine is vital. He told us 'I'm not losing anything',” revealed Poncharal. “And he has been behind a Ducati, behind a Honda...”
Rookie Spies, who left Malaysia a head-turning fifth quickest, had a similarly positive experience: “I got behind a couple of people and was really impressed with it," said the reigning World Superbike champion.