For the first time in MotoGP, Yamaha is to supply factory-spec M1s to a satellite team next season.

The new Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, which takes over the satellite M1 supply from Tech3, is to receive 'A-spec' (2019) machines for Franco Morbidelli, during what will be the Italian's second MotoGP season.

These 'A-spec' bikes will be the same as factory Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales at the start of next year, with new parts then being passed on to Morbidelli 'as soon as possible' during the season.

In other words, Morbidelli will effectively be on a par with the 'factory' machinery given to Cal Crutchlow (Honda), Jack Miller (Ducati) and the Tech3 (KTM) riders by their respective manufacturers.

The other Sepang machines, for rookie Fabio Quartararo, will be 'B-spec' bikes. These will be 2018 (Valencia) Yamahas used by the factory team and so the same age as the bikes that have previously been given to Tech3.

"There's a significant cost difference between an A-spec and a B-spec bike," explained Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis. "That's because of the amount of engines that will be used, the amount of development that will be updated, and so on.

"I think that the choice [by Sepang] of the A-spec bike for Franky gives him an optimum chance in his second year to run at the front of the game, so let's see if he can do that. I think he'll do better on the Yamaha than he does on the current Honda.

"Time will tell if that is reality or not, and you never know what's going to happen. But I think that with the Yamaha bike, although sometimes it may not be, let's say, at its ultimate competitiveness - because everyone knows that it's struggling a little bit this year - nevertheless, it's an easy bike to get along with, and I think that Franky will do very well on that bike.

"On the other side, for Fabio, I think to have the B-spec bike is the right choice. Because Fabio doesn't need all the latest technology and developments right now, he needs to have a good season, to learn, to look, to gather information, and to make progress himself. So I think it's a good choice by the team.

"But in terms of pure engineering support, I think it will be quite similar. We will provide two Japanese engineers to each rider."

Jarvis indicated that the biggest factor in providing the new 'A-spec' Yamahas came from Sepang being able to meet the extra cost, in order to maximise its chances of success.

"It [the new A-spec bikes] is related primarily to the SIC team's desires, so I think that they want to run at the front as early as possible, they want to make results," Jarvis said. "It's a significant investment by SIC, by the Malaysian government, but also especially by Petronas, so their desire is to be as competitive as possible.

"I think Franky is definitely one of the talents who will be one of the frontrunners of the future, so they want to give him every opportunity and to have no excuses. So it's primarily led by them, supported by us, because if they have the desire to do that, then we have three high-level bikes on the grid, which will help us in terms of data and trying new things.

"And I think Franky, being a VR46 Academy rider, living and training close to Valentino, he'll have some synergies there which will surely help him as well, to be able to discuss with Valentino. So for me, it's a win-win for everybody."

The Sepang Team will make its debut on the current Yamaha bikes at Valencia and then Jerez in November, before getting their final 2019 machines in January.

Jarvis added that the extra data gathered by Morbidelli's machine "certainly won't be a disadvantage" for the factory Yamaha team.

 

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