Yamaha MotoGP new-spec Engines for their MotoGP works M1 Motorcycle

Japan MotoGP

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Japanese MotoGP from will air LIVE on SPEED at 2:00am EST and re-air at 2:00pm EST on Sunday October 3rd.

MotoGP Yamaha have delivered the latest evolution M1 motors for factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi to race in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.

The performance upgrade comes at a critical point in the championship for Lorenzo who leads Honda rival Dani Pedrosa by 56 points with five races remaining.

But the young Spaniard has not won since the Czech MotoGP in August, four races ago, and has been outpaced recently by Pedrosa’s Honda and Casey Stoner’s Ducati.

Even though Lorenzo has a manageable lead in the points, he wants to challenge for podiums and race wins to add to the seven victories he has already claimed this season.

While the latest power-up version of the Yamaha motor will assist acceleration neither Lorenzo nor Rossi feel it will match the top speed of Honda and Ducati. And even with the engine boost Lorenzo says he will not commit to doing “crazy things,” especially over the next three weeks with consecutive races in Japan, Malaysia, and Australia.

“Obviously I am thinking a little about the championship because the important thing this year is the championship and for that you need points,” Lorenzo said. “In this situation I must keep going fast but also I must be prudent and calculating, with less risks. I will try to be as fast as I can but also not doing any crazy things.

“I am in great position in the championship although we are not in the best shape technically because we have a small power disadvantage. The latest evolution of the Yamaha engine should help this.

“If everything is normal I expect to be fighting for the podium or a victory.”

Lorenzo won the Motegi race last year but faces a tougher assignment this Sunday considering the recent red hot form of Pedrosa and Stoner.

But all bets may be off with rain forecast for most of the weekend including race day on Sunday. The Motegi circuit was drenched by incessant rain as riders arrived on Thursday to make final preparations.

The engine upgrade was first tried by Rossi and Lorenzo at the Brno test in August and Yamaha have worked over the past two months to deliver even more performance.

Rossi and Lorenzo will each been assigned one of the new motors with Yamaha, not surprisingly, respecting the deal to supply equal technical support to both factory riders.

Even though Rossi is departing to Ducati next season he deserves nothing less after his four world championships for Yamaha over the past seven seasons.

“We tried the motor at Brno and it was a small improvement so I expect it to be a bit closer to the other manufacturers, but I don’t think it will be enough to arrive at the same level,” Rossi said.

“I hope in these next three races our bike suffers less compared to Aragon, which was the worst circuit for the M1.”

Both Lorenzo and Rossi were hammered for top speed at last week’s Aragon GP in Spain — the Yamahas were the slowest bikes in the speed trap — with Lorenzo finishing fourth, his worst result of the season so far.

Yamaha’s strength is a finely balanced chassis and smooth, precise handling with an engine boost a timely addition for the coming high-speed circuits of Sepang and Phillip Island.

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