Paddock whispers hint ex-Ducati engineer is working wonders at Yamaha

Massimo Bartolini could be the key cog in Yamaha's MotoGP revival

Fabio Quartararo, Sepang MotoGP test, 6 February
Fabio Quartararo, Sepang MotoGP test, 6 February

Suggestions from inside the MotoGP paddock say that Yamaha are being inspired by their new recruit from Ducati.

Massimo Bartolini quit as Vehicle Performance Engineer at Ducati to join Yamaha this year as their technical director.

At the preseason Sepang test, whispers around the garages suggest that Bartolini’s impact has already been significant for the bikes that Fabio Quartararo and Alex Rins will ride.

“I’ve heard nothing but praise from the Yamaha team for Massimo,” reported Simon Crafar from Sepang.

“I dug into his specialities.

“They say three-sixty degrees, he knows the whole bike, meaning that all areas are his specialties. Impressive.

“Not only that is impressive, but also his human side and how he has come in to the Japanese system.

“As a boss - he is technical director of Yamaha MotoGP operations - so he’s one of the bosses.

“The way he has come in, apparently, is quite smooth.

“He has meshed with the Japanese and is working very well.

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“The Yamaha staff and mechanics, I know a lot of them. They have to be professional and they can’t tell me, exactly, what they are doing technically or what they have improved upon.

“But they are telling me that they are in a much better place than 12 months ago. Much more confident in what they have.

“It sounds like Bartolini has touched every area.

“There are Ducati-like scoops on the bottom of the valley pan, you can see the tail piece has changed, and there is different aero around the bike. Obviously the engine has changed, they have got an engine specialist.”

Yamaha have separately recruited Marco Nicotra from Ducati as well, to become their new Head of Aerodynamics.

Yamaha were notable at the preseason test in Sepang for seemingly making much-needed gains on the dreadful 2023 that they endured.

Quartararo may be their star rider - and the 2021 MotoGP champion - who they are desperate to tie down long-term despite his expiring contract, but the other side of the Yamaha garage is also flowing with optimism.

“Alex Rins has impressed. I chatted to his team,” Crafar reported.

“Everyone knows how smooth Alex is, you can see it, beautifully smooth.

“What they were impressed with was his braking.

“He might be smooth but wow, he brakes!

“Fabio is famous for braking but they are saying that Alex is at least matching that.

“I saw him out on track. He looked really good out there.”

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