With one race left in the 2020 MotoGP season, it’s almost all over bar the fat lady singing and Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (SRT) has proved itself to be the most competitive privateer team on the grid. The SRT performance record for this year includes 14 front row starts, six from pole position plus seven appearances on the podium with six first place finishes and 230 constructor championship points from 13 races out of 14.
This was despite several crashes during the race season including that fearsome incident in Styria which saw Franco Morbidelli running into Johann Zarco’s Ducati and his Yamaha YZR-M1 launching itself across the racing line, narrowly missing Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi of Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, the official factory team.
The year started strongly for SRT, with first rider Fabio Quartararo taking consecutive pole positions and race wins in the Spanish and Andalusian grands prix in Jerez. Taking a little time to warm up and get into the groove, team mate Morbidelli – Franky to fans – showed his mettle in the middle and end of the season with wins at Misano, Aragon and Valencia.
However, a technical infringement by Yamaha Factory Racing over non-compliant valves was handed down to SRT by the FIM Race Stewards. This was for non-compliant valves in the race engine which differed from the control engine submitted to the race scrutineers for technical approval at the beginning of the season.
While the riders were not penalised for the infringement to the rule book, Yamaha, and by consequence both the factory team and SRT as a Yamaha satellite team, were docked of their race points in the team championship. However, at this stage of the season, Morbidelli had amassed enough points to put him within a hair of winning the riders championship.
For next years racing season, the Yamaha riders roster get shifted around, with Valentino Rossi changing seats to SRT in 2021 and Quartararo, fifth in the World Championship, moving up to the factory team, riding alongside Vinales, both of whom will be on the 2020 versions of the Yamaha YZF-R1. Morbidelli, who is now second in the championship and likely to end the year that way, will continue in SRT, riding the 2019 YZF-R1.
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