As rumoured, Yamaha gave its version of a MotoGP holeshot device a public debut at the Sepang Test.

Following on from special starting devices fitted to the Ducati and Aprilia, some of the 2020 Factory M1s appeared with a new mechanical switch (electronic suspension adjustment is not allowed) on the upper left side of the bike.

Subsequent practice starts showed the rear of the M1 squatting down when the rider activated the switch, mimicking the Ducati system. The Aprilia version is fitted to the front suspension.

Holeshot devices work by temporarily locking the suspension in a compressed position, therefore lowering the centre of gravity and helping to prevent wheelies, which are the limiting factor for maximum MotoGP acceleration.

Maverick Vinales, Monster Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi and test rider Kohta Nozane had the holeshot device fitted to their M1s at Sepang.

Vinales and Rossi gave little away about the system, the Italian saying only "it's not too bad but unfortunately we need to work before we can use" while Vinales joked he can touch the ground easier now:

"I'm short. I'm not tall. So at least I can hold on to the bike better!" he smiled. "Before, I was very afraid. Now I can hold on to the bike better. That was good!"

It's not clear when Rossi tried the system, but Nozane definitely used it at the end of day two.

Vinales - who says starts are crucial to his chances of battling for the world championship, after frequently losing ground into turn one in previous years - was then the only rider to take advantage of the special practice start time at the end of the day three:

Vinales lowers rear of his M1 using the holeshot device at the Sepang test.

Perhaps it was just the angle of the images, but it also looked like the front of Vinales' Yamaha was low during his practice starts. In which case, might Yamaha have created a 'double-strength' holeshot device?

Time will tell, but Vinales did make several small 'stoppies' (braking hard enough to lift the rear wheel slightly off the ground) as he arrived on the grid. He may have just been checking/heating his brakes or wanting to replicate everything he would normally do before a real race start, but it was also exactly the kind of behaviour required to load and lock the front suspension... The rear suspension was lowered after Vinales came to a halt.

While Petronas Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo, who also has a Factory-Spec M1, did a lot of practice starts at the end of pitlane on the final day he did not have the holeshot system.

"No. I know that Yamaha is working on a new system for the holeshot. They are in the process, so when they are 100% sure, we will use it," said the Frenchman, fastest over all three days of the test.

When a rider brakes hard for turn one, the holeshot system should release the suspension and it was not thought to be used again for the rest of the race… Although there are rumours Ducati might have found a way to let its riders also lower the bike in hard braking/acceleration areas.

Suzuki is thought to be working on a holeshot device for 2020 but, like Honda and KTM, did not appear to have anything on its bikes at Sepang.

For comparison, Petrucci practice start using Ducati holeshot device, Brno 2019.

 

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