This just in from Yamaha Racing: the team will officially withdraw from the World Superbike Championship at the end of the 2011 season. The surprising news comes on the heels of a full strategic review of marketing operations in Europe and the rapidly changing conditions in the motorcycle industry. As a result of this review, Yamaha has decided to cut ties with its racing endeavors and instead focus on customer activities.
Part of what makes Yamaha’s decision so unexpected is that in late July the team extended its contracts with riders Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty into 2012. Both scored podiums in the last round at Silverstone, with Laverty nearly getting his third win of the season. Yamaha says it will continue to provide the utmost support for its riders until the end of the existing season, and also states that the timing of the decision was made to ensure all existing obligations would be met. However, the suddenness of the team’s decision leaves one to question just how dire things have become in the two-wheeled market.
For more info on this breaking development, read Yamaha’s official press release below:
Yamaha Motor Europe N.V. (YME) has decided to withdraw their official Yamaha World Superbike Team at the end of the current season from the FIM Superbike World Championship. This announcement follows a full strategic review of the Marketing Operations within Europe including all Motorsport activities and takes into account the continuing severe and rapidly changing Powered Two Wheeler market conditions throughout the region. Due to this decision more resource and focus will now be used for direct “Customer” activities to ultimately add more value to Yamaha ownership and increased Customer Satisfaction.
YME would like to express their sincere thanks and appreciation for the total commitment, support, and passion shown by the extremely professional and dedicated riders and team members both past and present throughout the many years of participation in the FIM Superbike World Championship. YME would also like to thank all the highly valued business partners and suppliers who have in-turn supported the team and in addition would like to thank Infront Motorsports, the FIM Superbike World Championship promoters. YME has chosen this timing of announcement to ensure that all existing obligations are correctly met, and to not limit any opportunities or future planning for all personnel involved.
Riders Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty are currently respectively 3rd and 4th in the overall 2011 FIM Superbike World Championship standings for riders with 4 rounds to go. YME and the team will continue to give its maximum efforts until the end of the existing season to try and regain the World Superbike title which Yamaha also won in 2009.
Yamaha will continue the availability of road racing kit parts, known as YEC Racing kit parts, for its R1 and R6 production models for private teams entering at all racing levels.