Yamaha Motor Europe Unveil 2018 Road Racing Lineup
Yamaha Motor Europe is delighted to announce its official road racing lineup for 2018, with the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team leading the way as they spearhead the challenge for glory in the FIM Superbike World Championship. The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team will be back to defend their clean sweep of the FIM Supersport World Championship titles on offer in 2017 and, once again, six young talents will compete as a part of the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge in the dramatic and exciting FIM Supersport 300 World Championship. Reigning FIM Endurance World Champions, the GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team, are unchanged for 2018 as they look to continue the incredible form that has seen them record four victories in the last five endurance races, as they renew their battle alongside the YART Yamaha Official EWC Team for the 2017/2018 FIM Endurance World Championship.
The 2018 WorldSBK season sees Crescent Racing continue their partnership with the Japanese manufacturer following Yamaha's impressive return to the championship in 2016 after an absence of four years with the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team. The 2017 season saw the team record six podiums with riders Alex Lowes (4) and Michael van der Mark (2) showing incredible improvements throughout the season, establishing themselves as regular podium contenders by the end of the year. Both riders return for the 2018 season to spearhead the team's assault on the title onboard the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK YZF-R1s.
Last season was an incredible debut year for the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6, as the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team managed to complete a clean-sweep of the titles on offer in one of the most competitive classes on the planet. 28-year-old French rider Lucas Mahias took on all-comers to become the 2017 FIM Supersport World Champion, while his teammate Federico Caricasulo - race-winner in Thailand and Jerez - finished the season in an encouraging fifth overall as he also impressed on the new R6, meaning that GRT secured the WorldSSP Team title and Yamaha also went on to claim the WorldSSP Manufacturer's crown. The 2018 season sees Mahias return to defend his title alongside teammate Caricasulo and Team Manager Filippo Conti.
The inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge saw six young riders compete onboard a Yamaha YZF-R3 in the debut season of the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship. Alfonso Coppola emerged as the victor of the challenge, now taking the next step in his career as a part of the Yamaha family in WorldSSP this year. The 2018 season sees six more hungry young riders battle it out in one of the most exciting two-wheeled racing classes on the planet. Leading the way for the bLU cRU riders is Galang Hendra Pratama, the Indonesian wildcard rider who took victory at the final round of the 2017 WorldSSP300 season in Jerez, alongside Luca Bernardi (16) from Italy, Dutch riders Dennis Koopman (20) and Joep Overbeeke (18), Notis Papapavlou (17) from Greece and Frenchman Hugo de Cancellis (16).
The 2016/2017 FIM Endurance World Championship saw the GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team lift their third endurance title after they dominated the majority of races. A disastrous opening round at the Bol d'Or saw the team bounce back by incredibly winning the next three races in a row at Le Mans, Oschersleben and the Slovakia Ring. A solid 11th-place finish at Suzuka was enough for them to be crowned Endurance World Champions for the third time in the team's history, adding to titles from 2004 and 2014, making up for the agony of missing out on the championship by just one point during the 2016 season.
GMT94 retain the three-rider lineup that lifted the trophy in 2016/2017 with Spaniard David Checa starting his 16th consecutive season with the team, plus 2008 125cc World Champion Mike di Meglio returns alongside former MotoGP/Moto2 rider, 2007 FIM Superstock 1000 Champion, and Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Test Rider, Niccolò Canepa. They got their title defence off to the best possible start by taking a maximum of 60 points at the opening round of the 2017/2018 season, the 24 hour Bol d'Or.
The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team were involved in a superb season-long duel with GMT94 during the 2016/2017 season. Podiums at Le Mans and Oschersleben, plus a fifth-place finish at Suzuka meant they were once again the highest placed full-time team across the finish line in Japan and saw them finish the season in third overall. YART make a change to their lineup for 2018, with former rider Takuya Fujita from Japan replacing compatriot Kohta Nozane after the first round at the Bol d'Or, to complete an already impressive team lineup of experienced Australian Broc Parkes and talented youngster Marvin Fritz from Germany as YART aim to claim their first Endurance World Championship for 9 years.
Yamaha Motor Europe is also delighted to announce a new partnership with Yamaha Indonesia Motor Manufacturing that will see the two brands work together, supporting a selection of riders from the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge and also the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team. Yamaha Indonesia Motor Manufacturing (YIMM) is the company who manufacture and distribute Yamaha motorcycles in Indonesia. The bikes will carry the Yamaha Indonesian slogan "Semakin di Depan", which means "one step ahead", a philosophy that embodies everything YIMM are trying to achieve, offering customers better products, better after sales services and more satisfaction. This marks an exciting new era in the Yamaha road racing project in helping to support racing around the world and the potential of the collaboration has already been highlighted by the excellent performances of Indonesian rider Galang Hendra Pratama in the 2017 WorldSSP300 championship as a wildcard that earnt him a full-time place in the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge for 2018.
Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Project Manager
"The 2017 season was an incredible one for Yamaha and the results we achieved across all classes mean that we enter into 2018 full of confidence. One of the key factors in motorsport is continuity and it is something we value highly. We are delighted to have retained both Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark in the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team after such a promising year for the team in 2017. The triple-crown winning GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team also remains the same, with 2017 WorldSSP Champion Lucas Mahias returning to defend his title alongside teammate Federico Caricasulo. The GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team - 2016/2017 FIM Endurance World Champions - have confirmed that all three riders who lifted the title last year will return, with David Checa, Niccolò Canepa and Mike Di Meglio having already got their title defence off to the best possible start after picking up the maximum 60 points on offer at the first round of the season, the Bol d'Or in September. The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team continue this theme with Broc Parkes and Marvin Fritz returning for 2018, and former rider Takuya Fujita taking the place of compatriot Kohta Nozane, and of course, we look to the future once again with six new, exciting, young Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge riders competing in the WorldSSP 300 Championship. The winter testing season has seen some very encouraging results, with all teams making impressive progress. I believe another key factor this season will be the positive winning mentality that shone through in 2017. If we can continue to develop this and keep on pushing the limits, I believe we can have an even better year than 2017 and I would like wish all the teams and riders the best of luck for the season!"
Yamaha Indonesia Motor Manufacturing - President
"I am so delighted and excited to join the team with a spirit of 'Semakin di Depan'. Our Indonesian rider Galang Hendra Pratama is a challenger, though he is a small guy, he is full of talent and passion, something that was proven in the last race of 2017 at Jerez with his first victory as a wildcard rider. We are delighted to be able to support his step up from the AARC to become a full-time rider in the 2018 WorldSSP300 Championship. As the Yamaha YZF-R3 is produced in Indonesia with all of our passion and, of course, Galang is from Indonesia, this means we will have a true Indonesian package in the World Championship. Let's see what will happen, but we have confidence that his victory in Jerez will not prove to be a one-off. I was lucky enough to race in the German Championship, Dutch Open Championship, and the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race in the 1990s, where I experienced incredible support from European racing fans and I hope that Galang will also get help and support from everyone in Europe as we feel he could be the next big superstar from Asia in the World Championship. We at YIMM are delighted to be involved with supporting the future of racing and creating something special to give the best young riders in the world a clear career path into the World Championship. We would like to help the next crop of young riders in the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge with the spirit of 'Semakin di Depan'!"