Yamaha Motor Europe manager Laurens Klein Koerkamp has paid tribute to the Yamaha World Superbike team after witnessing a remarkable 1-2 result in its final event.
Yamaha was embarking on its final WSBK event at Portimao following the original announcement that it was withdrawing back in August, with Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty doing their utmost to give the manufacturer a perfect send-off by finishing first and second in the very final race.
Coming two years after Ben Spies won Yamaha's first riders' title in Portugal, the efforts of Melandri and Laverty in 2011 helped it to secure second in the manufacturer standings, as well as second and fourth in the riders' reckoning.
"Finishing first and second in the last race is an unbelievable way for the Yamaha World Superbike Team to leave the championship. But apart from today, we are extremely proud of the whole season: Marco and Eugene being Superbike rookies and finishing second and fourth, winning six races on the way, is a fantastic achievement and the R1 has proven to be the best four cylinder machine in the superbike field. But of course at the same time it is a sad moment as Yamaha Motor Europe (YME), as announced before, now withdraws the official Yamaha World Superbike Team from the championship.
“On behalf of YME I want to express the strongest appreciation possible to Marco and Eugene, our engineers in Japan and to all staff of the Yamaha World Superbike Team. They have done a great job this year again and to finish the 2011 season as the number one team in the WSB Team standings is a confirmation of their professionalism and dedication. Also I want to thank again all our team partners.
“Many of the staff and partners have been with us for many years, giving their best to Yamaha with great passion, and were part of winning the World Title with Ben, the Manufacturers World title, many race victories and podiums and the success of the 2011 season.
A fitting conclusion to Yamaha's tenure in World Superbikes, though plans were afoot for the manufacturer to return in a semi-privateer capacity in 2012, Klein Koerkamp suggests such a deal is now unlikely to happen.
“It filled us at Yamaha with pride that riders and staff all were prepared to hang on while we were trying to find a solution to remain on the grid with Yamaha factory superbike machinery. Unfortunately it is not meant to be.
“We will bring the team to a closure in the coming months and I wish Marco, Eugene and all team staff all the best in pursuing the next steps in their careers."
The deal to keep Yamaha in World Superbikes in an pseudo-official capacity apparently hinged on whether any bid was willing to retain the team members, with an unknown South African company coming forward initially. However, that has reportedly fallen through, meaning the only representation Yamaha could have in 2012 would be wholly privateer.