Yamaha's Illegal Engines Are Changing The 2020 MotoGP Championship Landscape

Illustration for article titled Yamaha's Illegal Engines Are Changing The 2020 MotoGP Championship Landscape
Photo: Jose Jordan / AFP (Getty Images)

Yamaha has a big problem. The FIM MotoGP stewards ruled that the manufacturer breached homologation rules for its engines at the season opener in Jerez, and Yamaha has lost 50 championship points as a result. It’s fallen from first to third in the Constructors’ Championship.


If you’ve been following the series this year, you know that Yamaha has had countless engine problems. Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli suffered failures at both of Jerez’s races while Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo took wins at both events.

The problem was traced back to faulty valves that came from a secondary supplier, not from Yamaha itself, that did not match the homologated engine design teams submitted ahead of the season. In order to change an engine component, you need a unanimous agreement from the manufacturers’ association, which Yamaha did not receive because it never provided a document from the valve supplier that admitted fault.

Without that document, Yamaha withdrew its request to unseal its engines and change them. And because of the illegal parts on the engine, the FIM has now docked 50 points from the manufacturer, which would be double the amount of points won by Quartararo at Jerez 1.

The FIM also docked points from each Yamaha team overall, but riders themselves have not been impacted. As a result, Quartararo, Maverick Vinales, and Morbidelli have retained second, third, and fourth in the overall riders’ championship. That means each rider remains within 25 championship points of leader Joan Mir.

Ducati boss Paolo Cibatti, though, isn’t fully happy with the result. He acknowledged that the riders likely had nothing to do with the quality of the bikes they were riding but that it nevertheless sets a “risky” precedent when it comes to analyzing illegal engines and doling out punishments in the future.

Suzuki boss Davide Brivio had a very democratic view of the situation, noting that punishing or not punishing riders will “put a shadow over the championship” no matter what. It’s something of a lose-lose situation. If a Yamaha rider wins the riders’ championship without having been punished, it’s likely that there will be complaints that the rider in question should have had points docked. Had points been docked and a Yamaha rider barely missed out on the championship, there would likely have been complaints on the other side.


This weekend’s European Grand Prix will be the third to last race of the season and is set to continue the intriguing championship battle that has been raging all year.

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Romeo Reject

I’m with the Suzuki rep here: There’s no good outcome for officials on this, whatever they do will be interpreted in the worst manner possible.