Thursday marked the launch of the final 2020 MotoGP machines ahead of the beginning of official testing.
Suzuki, Yamaha and the satellite Petronas Yamaha teams all showed off new machines, with various levels of change from the 2019 bikes.
Least adventurous of the changes was the factory Yamaha team, which will use a virtually identical bike in 2020 after a major revamp twelve months ago when it upgraded Monster Energy to title sponsor status.
Keeping an unchanged rider line-up of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales, the factory’s launch was a somewhat subdued affair.
Yamaha is clear in its targets for the season though, with Viñales and Rossi aiming for evolution rather than revolution. Now aided by new test rider Jorge Lorenzo, the team will also be helped out by Michelin’s new tyre – which promises to give it a little of the grip that took away some of its competitive edge last season.
“Monster Energy has been a team partner since 2013 and it was just 12 months ago in Jakarta when they stepped up to become the main sponsor of our Factory MotoGP Team” said team boss Lin Jarvis at the presentation at the Malaysian circuit.
“We have thoroughly enjoyed working closely together throughout the first year and we are now ready to further expand our collaboration and achieve greater sporting successes in this second season.
Quartararo is all signed up for 2021 as he steps up to replace Valentino Rossi, but the real story of the day is who will replace the Frenchman, with both Rossi and new Yamaha test rider Jorge Lorenzo the first two to dip their toes in the water
“The 2019 bike design and team ’look‘ was very well received by both Monster Energy and Yamaha fans around the world, so we decided to keep the strong image unchanged for 2020.
“However, that is the only thing that remains unchanged. If you scratch beneath the surface you will find many changes that Yamaha and the team have made to improve the bike, the performance of our riders and the total working efficiency of our team.
“We are excited to start this new season, and we believe we can achieve great things this year.”
There wasn’t a massive change at Petronas Yamaha either, with the main difference being a trade in of last year’s matte paint for gloss.
Instead, the real upgrades to the team’s 2020 setup are below the skin, with both Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo starting tomorrow’s test on the same machinery as the factory team – in theory. This year will also bring more pressure Morbidelli and Quartararo’s way after a highly successful rookie campaign.
Quartararo is all signed up for 2021 as he steps up to replace Valentino Rossi, but the real story of the day is who will replace the Frenchman, with both Rossi and new Yamaha test rider Jorge Lorenzo the first two to dip their toes in the water.
Over at Suzuki, the team’s new unveiled colours reflect something of a new mentality, as it starts the season as a genuine title contender for perhaps the first time in two decades. The new silver and blue design it has adopted for 2020 evokes that of the colours used by Ernst Degner to win their first title back in 1962.
Alex Rins thinks he’s up for the challenge, Joan Mir has learned a lot in his rookie year, and the duo is on a GSX-RR that’s in great shape. The main obstacle they need to overcome is qualifying performance first and foremost, with grid position denying both the chance to be regular podium contenders last season – but it sounds from today’s launch that Suzuki believe it’s well on track to making improvements there.
“Last season gave us important information about our competitive level compared to other teams and also contributed to the growth of the MotoGP project, in terms of technical package of the GSX-RR, work methodology within the Team and – last but not least – experience and solidness of Rins and Mir,” said project leader Shinichi Sahara.
“We had some positive results and also two outstanding victories, which is positive, but also got a clear feeling that our potential can be even better exploited.
“This is the spirit with which we head into the 2020 season, carrying 60 years of experience in racing to try our best to even better results.
“Since our comeback in 2015 we have done small but steady steps that led us into the top of the competition, having more than one rider get Suzuki podiums and wins.
“We are now called to further improve this competitiveness and make a further step, being able to fight consistently into the podium positions.”