Yamaha looks set to debut a holeshot start device at next month's Sepang MotoGP test.

Ducati has run a special starting system, which lowers the rear of the bike, since Motegi 2018, with Aprilia then fitting a more conventional motocross-style front fork system at Brno last August.

Both methods 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.

Yamaha and especially Maverick Vinales are arguably most in need of such a device, with the Spaniard repeatedly seeing his victory hopes thwarted by a poor getaway. The #12 admits starts are now his top priority for 2020 and confirmed something is in the pipeline for the opening test of the year at Sepang.

"I think we have a really good compromise [with the Yamaha package] right now," said the double 2019 race winner, during an interview with TMCBlog.com. "We are fast in many tracks. I think our chassis is fantastic. Our top speed is not the best, but we can manage.

"For me, the most focus to improve is the start. The start is very important, because all Yamahas lose many races at the start. So we are working very hard at the factory, maybe to make a device for the start like other competitors [have already] or something new. And we will try to have it ready in Malaysia.

"So I think our focus [for 2020] is on the start and then not to lose so much top speed."

It would not be a surprise if the other factories - Suzuki, Honda and KTM - also have a holeshot device to try in Malaysia, following the apparent success of the Ducati and Aprilia systems. Honda revealed it used a front-fork start device with Alvaro Bautista in 2012-2014, but does not yet have such a system on the RC213V.

The main drawback of a start device is the risk that it may not disengage at Turn 1, as happened to Jack Miller at Silverstone.

Vinales, fastest in post-season testing at Valencia and Jerez, described the latest M1 prototype as "very similar" to last year's machine "which is really good", but expects to have more new parts to evaluate at Sepang.

The 25-year-old also explained why he has been so quick in pre-season testing in the past, only to then struggle when the racing gets underway.

"Normally in a test there is always Michelin rubber on the track. So the grip is fantastic. And with grip our bike is always fantastic, very fast," he said. "But then we race after Moto2, with Dunlop rubber. It changes [the grip] a lot and our bike is the one that suffers more with a change in grip. I think that's the reason."

Meanwhile, a boost in front confidence is credited for allowing Vinales to turn around a poor start to 2019 and go on to take Yamaha's only wins of the season, at Assen and Sepang.

"I think in Catalunya test we found a really good set-up, with which I felt much more comfortable with the front tyre, more confidence," he said. "Then we used that setup until the end of the season. There were tracks where it was better or worse, but normally it works, to be fighting for the victory."

Vinales eventually finished the year third in the world championship, as the top Yamaha.

The Sepang test takes place from February 7-9.

 

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