Yamaha Factory Racing is the company’s direct link to the highest level of motocross– the FIM Motocross World Championship – where their prototype and development ideas, research and innovations form part of the valuable feedback towards Yamaha HQ in Iwata.
The race team is the competitive forefront of the YRRD (Yamaha Rinaldi R&D) technical wing where the dependable and excellent base of YZ production motorcycles are taken and enhanced for competition and continuous testing. YRRD was established in 1995 by former World Champion Michele Rinaldi and has almost reached two decades with Yamaha moving through two-stroke and four-stroke mechanical eras. YRRD is also indispensible in the creation of the sought-after Yamaha racing kits (used by other teams in the Grand Prix paddock and by the likes of double FIM Women’s World Champion Kiara Fontanesi) .
The initial partnership between Yamaha and the Rinaldi set-up was an immediate success, soaring to the 1992 250cc world title with the late Donny Schmit. Since then the association has continued to grow and prosper, maintaining a place in the upper echelons of the sport. In 1994 the Italian squad reaped more acclaim in a different category when another American, Bob Moore, sealed the 125cc Championship. The Rinaldis carried on running the factory’s official 125 and 250cc efforts and then further on-track glory came when the team began campaigning Yamaha’s four-strokes in 1999; it was to be the start of a comprehensive streak of results. Andrea Bartolini won the 500 world title with the production based YZ400F in that first year, with Marnicq Bervoets taking the runnerup position the following term.
From 2001 Stefan Everts stamped his mark on the sport with Rinaldi-run Yamaha’s in a six season consecutive spell of Championship domination. The initial pieces of silverware were taken with the YZ500FM, a machine jointly developed by Yamaha and the Rinaldi team in 2001 and 2002, before switching to the YZ450FM for the new MX1 category (for 450cc four-stroke and 250cc two-strokes). Everts added four back-to-back titles on the YZ450FM, between 2003 and 2006 before retiring undefeated in September ‘06.
Grand Prix victories and podiums have since been celebrated with the likes of Josh Coppins, Marc de Reuver, David Philippaerts, Steven Frossard and Gautier Paulin. Coppins came extremely close to gaining the title in 2007 before an injury towards the end of the season cruelly denied the New Zealander his life dream. Philippaerts took the YZ450FM to world championship success in 2008 in what was his first term with the team; the emotional scenes at the final 2008 Grand Prix in Italy will not quickly be forgotten. Frossard continued the trend of debut riders being able to make a vast impression in their maiden year when the Frenchman claimed two MX1 victories in 2011 and finished the campaign as runner-up in the standings. Paulin rode the YZ450FM for the first time as a wild-card at the last round of 2011 and won the Italian Grand Prix.
Since 2010 the Italians have split their focus again between the premier classand the MX2 division and therefore YZ450 and 250FM machinery. Paulin and then Christophe Charlier both won Grand Prix motos on the quarterlitre bike in four years of evolution and refinement towards what is now the production 2014 YZ250F. Charlier will start his third season as part of the team in 2014 and is joined by promising young Belgian Jeremy Van Horebeek in MXGP. JVH will be hoping for the same ‘rookie effect’ on the YZ450FM that brought glory to Coppins, Philippaerts and Frossard.