Rising above what has been one of the most challenging Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours weeks of recent years, The Yamaha Factory Racing Team delivered an heroic effort today to secure an incredible fourth consecutive victory in the iconic World Endurance race. Fellow Yamaha competitors GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team came tantalisingly close to securing the 2017/18 Endurance World title, missing out by the narrowest of margins to take second on the podium. YART Yamaha Official EWC Team had a less fortunate Suzuka 8 Hours experience, forced to retire before the halfway point.
As race day dawned this morning, Yamaha Factory Racing riders Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark prepared for the 2018 Suzuka 8 Hours with a huge challenge in front of them. Following a big crash in practice, it was decided that key team member and local hero Katsuyuki Nakasuga would not ride in the race as a shoulder injury prevented him from riding at 100% fitness. Undaunted by the setback, van der Mark took control for the opening stint, a race start that was itself a major challenge with rapidly changing weather bringing full wet conditions just seconds before the off.Remaining calm the Dutchman didn't put a foot wrong, working his way up from fifth to take his position as a race lead contender before handing over to teammate Lowes. The Brit picked up where van der Mark left off, and was leading the race two hours in. The team would quickly encounter a safety car, which proved to be the first of many over the next hours, rain, sun, crashes and spilt oil on track all causing the yellow flags and a re-shuffle of the order. The time spent in between the safety cars was a pitched battle between Yamaha Factory Racing and race rivals Kawasaki, the two racing less than a second apart for countless laps as they fought for the lead.
A combination of race strategy, safety car interventions and pure consistent race speed ultimately gave Lowes and van der Mark the edge over their rivals in green, however the final hour of the race saw the Factory Honda effort give it their best shot to close the gap. Having made it this far, the two Yamaha heroes, supported in spirit by Nakasuga-san in the pit garage, kept an unbeatable pace on their YZF-R1. Lowes eventually crossed the finish line after eight hours over 30 seconds clear at the front to record the team’s incredible fourth consecutive Suzuka 8 Hours victory. In doing so, he and van der Mark wrote yet another page in the history books for Yamaha Factory Racing and confirmed their status as heroes, overcoming any challenge in their path to reach the top step of the podium.The combination of the two World Superbike riders, Nakasuga’s invaluable contribution over the race week and the efforts of the entire Yamaha Factory Racing Team have turned a Suzuka week of surprises, rain, a typhoon and unforeseen challenges into an incredible success story.
Title challengers GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team came to Suzuka determined to give their all in the fight for the World Championship victory. Starting from 14th on the grid they were also faced with the same series of challenges that befell the Factory Team, rapidly changing weather conditions from dry to wet to dry and numerous long safety car interruptions that disrupted their rhythm and made the challenge of fighting for the title more difficult. The first four hours of racing saw a lower race pace as riders David Checa, Niccolò Canepa and Mike Di Meglio worked through the weather. As the time tipped over the halfway mark, the team settled, the pace picked up and the position climbed.
As the clock ticked down to the remaining laps, the team found themselves in a battle with their title rivals FCC TSR Honda, the two less than a second apart at times. Unfortunately they were unable to best them, eventually crossing the line after eight hours in sixth position to claim a worthy runner up position with second in the Endurance World Championship to end their season and also, sadly, their current EWC activity.YART Yamaha Official EWC Team’s 2018 Suzuka 8 Hours proved a disappointing one, the promise of a strong result lost in the first half of the race. Australian Broc Parkes lost several positions from the start grid in the rain conditions but was making up time before handing over to teammate Marvin Fritz who put the pressure on. Fritz delivered a highly competitive pace to ultimately bring the no.7 YZF-R1 into seventh position.
Teammate Takuya Fujita then took his turn and was eager to make an impression in front of his home crowd. A combination of fresh tyres and nervousness at his first ride unfortunately led to a high side on his first lap, causing major damage to the bike. He was able to push it back to the pits and the team worked hard to rebuild it and re-join with Parkes back on-board in 55th place. The Australian was however unable to find a rhythm with the quickly built machine and, missing the proper set up of their race bike, the team made the decision to withdraw for safety reasons.
This weekend marked a proud moment for the South African world of motorsport.
Camden Mc Lellan, a 13-year old motocross racer from Germiston, made history when he swept up the 2018 FIM European Championship.
He now becomes the first South African rider to have ever claimed a title in European Championship history.
With five consecutive National Championships behind his name, Mc Lellan’s potential has fast become a talking point for local motocross fans. The youngster was first exposed to the international circuit two years ago, where he proved to have more than enough speed to keep up with the world’s top racing talent.
“With our first few trips to the USA and Europe, we quickly realised that he had enough speed to compete but just needed exposure to that level of competition on a regular basis if becoming a pro would ever be on the cards,” explained his mother, Cheryl Mc Lellan.A turning point in the rider’s fast-growing career came in 2017 when he managed to balance his pursuit of another South African National Championship with a part-time racing schedule in Europe.
He was ultimately crowned Pro Mini Champion for the second time, and made the bold decision to leave South Africa and base himself in Germany to commit to a full international season of racing.
In what he describes as the ‘biggest race of his career’, Mc Lellan lined up as the underdog. A slow start put him in 13th place where he began to chase down the world’s leading riders.With a few laps left in the first moto, he pulled off enough passes to take the lead and ultimately storm to his sweetest victory yet. A similar situation unfolded in the second moto where a second place finish saw him snatch up the overall win.
“I am extremely happy with the win, especially after coming in as the underdog. It feels awesome to beat everyone who underestimated me! Racing overseas is super competitive, and that’s what I need. It been hard to leave all my friends behind to come and live here, but it’s a sacrifice I have to make to be a World Champion… and that’s what I want to be!” said Mc Lellan.
With the prestige of winning a European title, the future looks bright for South Africa’s rising motocross star. Mc Lellan is also leading the ADAC German Championship by nine points, and with three rounds left has another massive win on the cards.
His ultimate goal this season is Junior Worlds in Horsham, Australia, on 24-25 August, where he hopes to realise his dream of becoming a world champion.A parting shot from a proud Darrel Fitz-Gerald, his Red Bull KTM coach:
“I don’t even know where to begin – it’s not everyday that a guy from South Africa does something like this in such a short period of time. I’ve worked with Cam from a very young age, and we never set goals too far out of reach. We just focused on building a great foundation and winning came when the time was right. Camden feeds of confidence, when he believes he can win he’s unstoppable! The Mc Lellan family are extremely driven and passionate, and I really believe his winning secret lies at home.”
Franziska Brandl Managing Director of KTM South Africa had the following to say about Camden Mc Lellan:
“When we started integrating Juniors into our Red Bull KTM Team we didn’t quite know what to expect. Over the years however we have seen the youngsters grow and surpass all our expectations. Camden has impressed us so much over the years and he sure has what it takes to take his racing career further and continue to reach his dreams and goals. It is a privilege for us to be able to part of this journey,” said Franziska Brandl.
If you’d like to support his journey to Junior Worlds a fundraiser event will be hosted at Ridgeway Race Bar, Edenvale, on Thursday, 26 July. Contact Janine for more details – 083 328 7609
The penultimate round of the National Cross-Country Championship took place in Swaziland this weekend. The event saw South Africa’s top racing talent set off to conquer rolling hills and uncharted forests to salvage every championship point left.
In amongst the crowd of highly-entertained spectators was motorsport legend Alfie Cox, who witnessed his son storm to the overall victory. The young and upcoming Bradley Cox took the lead in the early stages of the 320km route and managed to hold the gap on a strong group of riders chasing him down.
It was a win that came down to the wire as Cox finished just seconds ahead of his closest competitor, KTM’s Jarryd Coetzee. The race for the OR3 Championship has now been brought back to life as riders prepare to fight tooth and nail at the final event of the season next month.
“I had to really dig deep to hold onto that lead going into that last lap. It was a long day out there, and the varied Swaziland terrain was extremely demanding. So good to have my dad here to support – he has a lot of experience and gives solid advice,” said young Cox.
To have witnessed his son’s glory was especially significant for Alfie Cox, who happened to claim his first ever victory in Swaziland 30 years ago.
“Bradley has never felt that he has to ‘fill my boots’, and I’ve never put that pressure on him either. I don’t need to live out my dreams through my son, I’ve achieved what I wanted to in this sport and Bradley is becoming his own champion. I provide the tools he needs, but the motivation and dedication it takes to win – that’s all from him,” said Cox.
Adding to excitement was the battle that unfolded in the premier OR1 Class. It has been one of the tightest championships in years with Ross Branch and Kenny Gilbert racing neck-and-neck for the prestigious title.
Branch had some bad luck at the time trial on Friday when he partially flooded his bike at a river crossing. His Brother Leader Tread KTM team worked late into the night to get him back at the start line on Saturday for the main event, but the penalty ultimately saw him set off in 15th place.In a true ‘never day die’ attitude, the rider managed to claw his way back up the leader board to finish the race in second behind Gilbert.
Branch managed to save his championship lead which he now holds by a mere three points. Race fans are in for an epic season finale where a victory for either Gilbert or Branch will see them win it all.
Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes will again lead Yamaha's assault on the FIM Superbike World Championship in 2019, after the two riders agreed terms with Yamaha Motor Europe during the recent Misano race weekend.
The 2019 season will be van der Mark's third in Yamaha colours. The former European Superstock and FIM World Supersport champion secured two podium finishes during his debut season aboard the Yamaha YZF-R1 in 2017, an achievement he has already surpassed in 2018.
The 25-year-old Dutch rider has finished on the podium seven times already during the first half of the 2018 season, including a career first WorldSBK win in Race 1 at Donington Park. Van der Mark then went on to take victory in Race 2 at the British round to secure his first double win during what was his most successful WorldSBK event to date. Van der Mark currently lies third in the 2018 championship standings with 248 points.
Van der Mark has also enjoyed success at the Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race, winning on three of the five occasions he's contested the race, with his last victory coming in 2017 when he rode for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team alongside Lowes and Katsuyuki Nakasuga.
For Lowes the 2019 season will be his fourth with Yamaha's official WorldSBK team, of which he's been an integral part since Yamaha made their official return to the FIM Superbike World Championship in 2016.
The 27-year-old British rider has secured seven podium finishes for Yamaha since the start of the 2017 season, including a first race win at this year's Czech Republic round in Brno. Lowes currently lies equal fifth in the 2018 championship standings with 193 points.
The former British Superbike Champion is also a two-time winner of the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race, having taken back-to-back victories for Yamaha in 2016 and 2017.
Having secured their rider line-up for the 2019 season, Yamaha's official WorldSBK team is fully motivated to return to action after the summer break, for Round 10 of the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimão, Portugal, which takes place from 14-16 September.
The Yamaha racing family were out in force to showcase the past, present and future of Yamaha Motor Corporation at this year's world-renowned Goodwood Festival of Speed, which took place on the country estate of committed motorsport enthusiast the Duke of Richmond over the weekend of 12 - 15 July.
The event, enjoyed by more than 100,000 people on each of the four days, also provided the perfect backdrop against which to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Yamaha's iconic YZF-R1.
The past was represented by the original Yamaha YZF-R1, which was launched to critical acclaim back in 1998. Eric de Seynes, President of Yamaha Motor Europe, rode the bike, resplendent in Yamaha's distinctive red, white and black livery, up the famous Goodwood hill in front of a capacity crowd on Friday.Representing the present on Friday were McAMS Yamaha British Superbike riders, Josh Brookes and Tarran Mackenzie, who made multiple trips up the Goodwood hill aboard a range of current Yamaha machinery, including Michael van de Mark's race winning Pata Yamaha WorldSBK machine and a 2018 YZF-R1 race bike sporting a one-off 20th anniversary livery.
The two British Superbike riders also showcased two of Yamaha's current road models, with Mackenzie ascending the hill on the Yamaha YZF-R1M alongside Brookes on the ground-breaking Yamaha Niken.On the Saturday and Sunday Yamaha's current WorldSBK riders, Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, shouldered the riding responsibilities. The Pata Yamaha pairing, both race winners this season, were joined by World Superbike legend and firm fan favourite, Noriyuki Haga.
While Haga thrilled the assembled crowd aboard both the 1998 and 2018 versions of Yamaha's YZF-R1, van der Mark did his first runs up the 1.86km Goodwood hill on his double race winning WorldSBK machine before switching to the road going YZF-R1M.
"I really enjoyed the Goodwood Festival of Speed," commented van der Mark. "The number of bikes and cars from all eras assembled for the hill climb was impressive, as was the massive crowd of race fans who lined the route all weekend. Even more special was to celebrate 20 years of the Yamaha YZF-R1, with Noriyuki riding the 1998 bike, Alex on the 2018 Suzuka bike with a livery inspired by the original and me on the race bike that has secured Yamaha three wins this season. A great event and an enjoyable weekend."Lowes completed most of his hill runs on a 2018 YZF-R1 race bike with the same 20th anniversary livery that the Yamaha Factory Racing Team will sport at this year's Suzuka 8 Hour race. The 27-year-old British rider did however manage to squeeze in one run with the Yamaha Niken, his first experience of this unique machine.
"What a fantastic experience," declared Lowes. "There is no other event quite like the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where motorsport fans can get up close and personal with so many riders, drivers and their machines. It was nice to be a part of that but, for me, it was also incredibly interesting to see the history of motorsport collected together in one place. It was the perfect setting to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Yamaha YZF-R1 alongside Michael and Nori, who I hadn't met before. He's a great guy."
It wasn't just Yamaha's human riders that were in attendance at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed however. Representing the future was Yamaha's famous MOTOBOT, which took pride of place in the event's Future Lab exhibition.
The autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot was one of the star attractions of the Future Lab, generating massive interest amongst the thousands of visiting motorsport fans, who were given a tantalising glimpse into the MOTOBOT project by Project Director, Amish Parashar.
Monster Energy Company and Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team Announce New Title Sponsorship Agreement
The Monster Energy Company and Yamaha strengthen their global alliance by signing a multi-year agreement, elevating Monster Energy to the Title Sponsor position within the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team.
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is pleased to announce that the Monster Energy Company will be the Title Sponsor of the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team, effective from the start of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship season.
The multi-year Agreement will see the factory Yamaha team race as the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team. The title sponsorship further strengthens the long-standing partnership between the two companies, with Monster Energy having been an Official Team Sponsor since 2013. During this time, the factory Yamaha squad secured the MotoGP Triple Crown in 2015 and the Team Title in 2016.Both of Yamaha‘s factory riders are established Monster Energy athletes. Motorsport fans can look forward to the iconic Monster Energy brand becoming an even more eye-catching feature in the MotoGP scene, as Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales will feature Monster Energy prominently on their leathers, their factory YZR-M1s, and on all Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team assets.
The collaboration between Yamaha and Monster Energy is also underlined by the presence of the world famous “claw” icon on several other Yamaha bikes in racing disciplines such as Monster Energy Supercross, AMA Motocross, MotoAmerica SuperBike & SuperSport, FIM Motocross World Championship and Suzuka 8 Hours. This global Monster Energy-Yamaha alliance will now take on an even greater significance for both companies.A press conference is to be scheduled on the Thursday before the Monster Energy Grand Prix Ceské republiky event, held from August 3rd - 5th, serving as an opportunity for the media to ask questions.
Competing aboard Yamaha's all-new prototype TY-E machine, veteran trial competitor Kenichi Kuroyama has topped the opening round of the two-event 2018 FIM Trial-E Cup held in Auron, France.
Extended to two rounds for 2018 following the successful inaugural Trial-E Cup competition in 2017, together with his Trial-E competitors Kuroyama faced two laps of 15 sections around the picturesque ski-resort in south-east France. Enjoying sunny skies and dry weather the event featured two groups of sections - round boulders in a dry riverbed and more angular rocks on the side of a steep, wooded hillside.
Topping the opening day's qualifying, Kuroyama was handed a significant boost right at the start of the Trial-E event when one of his expected closest challengers dropped three marks on the opening section. Handing the advantage to Kuroyama, the Yamaha rider then completed all 15 sections without losing a single mark to complete the first half of the event in impressive style.
The second and final lap proved to be a little more challenging for Kuroyama despite the dry conditions. Clean through the opening six sections of lap two, in section seven he dropped one mark before dropping an additional one mark in section 11. Completing the lap and the event with a total of just two marks lost, Kuroyama finished two marks clear of his closest competitor - Loris Gubian from France - and as winner of the Trial-E class of the TrialGP of France. In doing so the Japanese rider take a provisional lead in the FIM Trial-E Cup standings.
The second and final round of the 2018 FIM Trial-E Cup takes place next weekend, July 21-21, in Comblain-Au-Pont, Belgium.
A star-studded rider line up will be on hand at the 25th Goodwood Festival of Speed from Thursday the 12th to Sunday the 15th of July to help showcase the past, present, and the future of the Yamaha Motor Corporation and also to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the iconic Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike. Michael van der Mark, Alex Lowes, Noriyuki Haga, Josh Brookes, Tarran Mackenzie and Yamaha Motor Europe N.V. President Mr. Eric de Seynes will be heading up the Goodwood hill on a collection of Yamaha machinery from across years. Yamaha machines in action will include an original 1998 YZF-R1, the current WorldSBK R1, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team 2018 Suzuka R1, a 2018 YZF-R1M, and the revolutionary new Niken three-wheeler. Providing the wow factor in a static display will be Yamaha's future technology vision, the incredible MotoBot. The YZF-R1 riding robot will sit alongside space age technology for the event.
Fresh from securing their maiden WorldSBK victories at Donington and Brno respectively, Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team's Michael van der Mark & Alex Lowes will take on the hill climb at Goodwood on a WorldSBK-spec R1 and also the Yamaha Factory Racing Team Suzuka 8 Hours-spec YZF-R1 on which they are aiming to win the legendary endurance for the fourth time in a row this summer with teammate Katsuyuki Nakasuga. The WorldSBK YZF-R1 will be ridden by van der Mark and will feature a special one-off livery he used this year at his home round in Assen on his way to a stunning double podium. Lowes will charge up the hill on the Suzuka YZF-R1 that he and his teammates will race in Japan on Sunday 29th of July with a special livery to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Yamaha YZF-R1 as the team aim to make history.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team rider Federico Caricasulo secured his first race win of the season at Misano today, with a dominant performance in front of his home crowd. Lucas Mahias was left frustrated after contact with another rider saw him crash out of the race on only the second lap, while European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola also crashed on the same lap but remounted to finish 23rd.
Starting from pole position after dominating qualifying on Saturday, Caricasulo was forced to sit in behind Jules Cluzel for the opening three laps, after the Frenchman took the advantage from the start. Clearly the faster rider, Caricasulo made his move on lap three with a clean pass on Cluzel to take the race lead. Setting a fast and consistent pace at the front the Italian was never headed for the remainder of the race and crossed the line to claim his first win of the season and his first since the Jerez race in 2017. The win sees Caricasulo jump from sixth to fourth in the championship standings with 104 points, 12 points adrift of third-placed Randy Krummenacher.
A flying start from the second row of the grid saw Mahias make it into the leading trio by the end of the opening lap. The 29-year-old Frenchman was fighting for position with Raffaele de Rosa when a hard pass from the Italian at turn 10 resulted in contact between the two. Mahias was pushed wide and onto the dirty part of the track, where he crashed without injury. With no points secured today Mahias slipped one place in the championship standings from fourth to fifth.
Coppola's hopes of a back-to-back points scoring finish were dashed on lap two today, when he suffered a low side crash at turn two. Fortunately the 20-year-old Italian was able to remount and rejoin the race, gaining more valuable experience in his rookie WorldSSP season.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP's Jeremy Van Horebeek made a welcomed return to the top-ten at the thirteenth round of the FIM MXGP World Championship in Semarang, Indonesia this weekend. After a dramatic start to the Grand Prix with Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Jeremy Seewer and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP's Romain Febvre crashing out of Race 1, Seewer was able to redeem himself with an encouraging top-five finish in the final race for eleventh overall, while Febvre was sixteenth overall after another dramatic turn of events in Race Two. The circuit in Semarang was widely considered one of the most spectacular tracks on the calendar. It was wide, fast and flowing with enormous jumps and plenty of changes in elevation. Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Jeremy Seewer and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP's Romain Febvre were two of the fastest riders around the all-new circuit. Febvre set the fastest lap time in Timed Practice and did the same again in the Qualifying Race where he finished in fourth position behind Seewer, who drove home a third-place finish, while Jeremy Van Horebeek was eighth at the flag.
With the scintillating sun cooking the clay, any water that was used to combat dust made the surface of the track slippery. If the riders had the choice between a dusty circuit or a wet and slippery one, they would say that the water was the better of two evils. With the stifling hot temperatures rising above 33 degree Celsius, the track crew was left with no choice but to put water down on the fiery orange clay. One of the first victims was Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Jeremy Seewer who had another rider cut him off on the up ramp of an enormous triple jump. The Swiss rider managed to walk away unscathed from the spectacular crash, but the damage to his bike after such a heavy impact meant he could not rejoin the race.Romain Febvre was silky smooth on the throttle of his YZ450FM as he charged past his arch rival Clement Desalle to take over third place before being pushed back to fourth by the championship leader Jeffrey Herlings a couple of laps later. With five minutes left on the clock he spied another opportunity to reclaim third place. He took the position from the defending world champion Antonio Cairoli with three minutes left on the clock, but less than a lap later all of his hard work came undone when he lost traction on the face of a jump, fell and broke his handle bars which meant he could not finish the race.
Jeremy Van Horebeek was left to fly the flag for the Yamaha riders as he rediscovered some of the speed he had lost over the last few rounds. The Belgian was happy with the progress he made on his way to an impressive sixth place in the opening race.
The start at the all-new Semarang circuit was an interesting left hand turn into a dragon-back, which is a collection of jumps that are various heights. In the final race of the day, Febvre and Van Horebeek were caught in a first turn incident that saw Febvre fall while Van Horebeek lost time and positions over the 'dragons back' as a result. Seewer was out for redemption and launched into third-place, as Febvre dusted himself off and re-entered the race in last place.
A good start was critical this weekend with the rock-hard clay developing a very limited selection of fast lines. Van Horebeek did his best to re-group after losing a handful of positions at turn-one, while Febvre did his best salvage valuable championship points. The Frenchman managed to cross the Finish Line in twelfth place after he passed his teammate on the last lap.Febvre's twelfth place allowed him to claw back enough points for sixteenth overall, while Van Horebeek's 6-13 scorecard was enough to wrap up the Grand Prix in ninth place.
Up front, Seewer was hungry for a good result. The rookie was all heart as he put chase on the top-three after losing one position to Clement Desalle. The twenty-three year old was able to keep Cairoli at bay for the entire race before a small crash dropped him back to fifth. Nevertheless, a top-five finish was a positive end to a challenging weekend where he almost finished inside the top-ten.
The next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place in Loket, Czech Republic on the weekend of July 22nd.