2. Yamaha’s dilemma

If Yamaha’s 2018 is described as Annus Horribilis then 2019 needs to become its Carpe Diem.

Just the single race win last year, with Maverick Vinales triumphing at Phillip Island, was a small highlight on a campaign which left both riders searching for solutions, a lot of head-scratching in the engineering department and an unprecedented public apology from Yamaha’s project leader Kouji Tsuya.

Heading into the start of winter testing and a breakthrough enjoyed on one side of the garage was not so joyously replicated on the other. After the Valencia and Jerez tests Vinales was confident of Yamaha’s development path, particularly around its engine specification, but Valentino Rossi felt similar problems remained with little solutions found.

It leaves Yamaha in a stick or twist situation on where to edge its bets; stick with its current plan which Vinales supports or twist to try to meet Rossi’s demands. Tactfully, Yamaha may try to cater for both but given MotoGP’s current rules each side of the equation would need to make compromises which theoretically would weaken both.

Yamaha’s response in 2019, and to a similar line Suzuki’s continue improvements, will provide a fascinating watch as the Japanese manufacturers aim to find a performance level to match the recent strides ahead from Ducati and Honda.

Follow Page 3 for the next MotoGP storyline to watch in 2019...

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