The Yamaha R1 has proved itself on and off the track, claiming victory in the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race alongside the British and American Superbike Championship titles during the first year of its triumphant return to motorsports in 2015. The R1 has since gone on to make it four consecutive victories at Suzuka (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), plus also won the 2016/2017 FIM Endurance World Championship in the hands of the GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team. In 2018 the R1 secured three race wins in the FIM Superbike World Championship, with Michael van der Mark adding a fourth victory in 2019 when he took the race win in Jerez.
Replicating the production motorcycle, the WorldSBK-Spec R1 is adapted for World Championship competition by removing road-safety aspects such as headlights and wing-mirrors, replacing bodywork with racing items and allowing modifications to engine management, exhaust systems, suspension, brakes and a number of engine parts. Current regulations stipulate the bike must weigh a minimum of 168kg, with power ranging between 750cc and 1200cc, depending on the number of cylinders the engine contains, while the tuning of race machines is now subject to more limitations than in previous years due to the restriction of technical modifications.
Now in their fifth year back in the FIM Superbike World Championship, Yamaha has been showing the competition what makes them one of the most well respected and timeless names in motorsport. With consistent results and year on year improvements to form, the R1 earned six podiums in 2017 for the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team's Alex Lowes (4) and Michael van der Mark (2), establishing them as regular podium contenders by the end of the season.
A program of continual development saw the R1 even more competitive in 2018, securing 14 podium finishes in the hands of van der Mark (10) and Lowes (4), with both riders claiming their first WorldSBK race wins during the season. Van der Mark dominated the Donington Park round to win both races, while Lowes got the better of his teammate in Brno to claim a third win for the R1.
The podium count continued to climb in 2019, due in part to the arrival of three more Yamaha R1 machines on the WorldSBK grid, as GRT Yamaha stepped up to the premier class with Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese and Ten Kate Yamaha returned to competition with Loris Baz. Melandri made his mark early, finishing on the podium in the opening race in Australia and adding two more podium finishes at the Aragon round later in the season.
The Pata Yamaha pairing of Lowes and van der Mark were consistent front runners throughout the 2019 season, with the Briton racking up nine podium finishes to the Dutch rider's eight. Van der Mark also secured his third WorldSBK race win aboard the Pata Yamaha R1 in Jerez.
The 2020 WorldSBK grid will again feature five Yamaha R1 machines. Michael van der Mark will be joined at the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team by Toprak Razgatlıoğlu, with the Turkish rider having already impressed aboard the R1 during testing.
The GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team will feature two up and coming young riders in American Garrett Gerloff and Italian Federico Caricasulo, while the Ten Kate Yamaha WorldSBK Supported Team will once again field Frenchman Loris Baz aboard their R1.