Jorge Lorenzo’s increasingly desperate defense of his MotoGP world championship will receive a boost with the arrival of Yamaha’s F1-style seamless shift gearbox for Sunday’s San Marino Grand Prix.
After an agonizing wait and strident pleas from Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, the new gearbox will be fitted to both factory Yamahas from Friday’s free practice sessions at Misano.
Lorenzo and Rossi have been urging Yamaha for almost a year to accelerate development of the gearbox to match the seamless system that Honda have used for three seasons.
Smoother and faster upshifts on full lean angle are the primary advantages, and the Yamaha gearbox box has finally arrived for the 13th race of the season.
Lorenzo, following his breathtaking final-corner win at Silverstone last week, trails his Honda rival Marc Marquez by 39 points.
“When I tried the gearbox in Brno last month, I was smiling because it was nice not to feel the drop in power for some milliseconds during the upshift,” Lorenzo said.
“With the seamless, it feels like riding a scooter with an automatic transmission. With the normal gearbox the bike moves but with the seamless it doesn’t move and you save the tires more.
“You are more in control of the bike, but we have to see what difference it makes in the race.”
For months, Rossi has been saying how the seamless gearbox will be crucial to Lorenzo’s chances of retaining his 2012 world title on the M1 against the increasingly impressive performance upgrades to the Honda RC213V.
“The new gearbox is an important step here at Misano, which is a track where you use the gearbox a lot, so we hope it can be a good advantage to fight with the Hondas,” Rossi said.
“It is a more help for the riding than for the lap time. I don’t think the seamless will give us 0.5 seconds per lap, but it will be a big help for the race distance and to ride the bike more at the limit without doing any mistakes.
“But how much we can improve, we will have to see during the weekend.”
Yamaha has been cautious with the introduction of the seamless gearbox but now, reliable or not, they have little choice.
Lorenzo continues to improve his physical and mental approach to racing and needs help. It is time for risk-taking by Yamaha engineers, and Lorenzo can no longer be asked to make the difference.
“The gearbox is completely new and is a Yamaha-designed system and after we found the benefits of it, we also found some things that needed improving before we raced it,” said Yamaha MotoGP boss Lin Jarvis.
“There are always risks in racing but we wanted to minimize any chances and improve and perfect it and then use it at the first opportunity.”
Lorenzo can only hope that it has not come too late. He needs more race wins to unsettle the rhythm of rookie sensation Marquez, who has only been off the podium once in 12 races, when he crashed out of the Italian GP.Honda, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, MotoGP, San Marino Grand Prix, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha