On the wish list for Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi is a seamless shift gearbox.
Yamaha is the only factory racing in the MotoGP World Championship that doesn’t have a seamless shift gearbox. Honda was the first to feature the technology, followed by Ducati, though Valentino Rossi said the two systems weren’t equal.
“You know, Ducati has a similar seamless, but is not the same as Honda,” Rossi said in Sepang.. “Is more or less in between, you know, between Yamaha and Honda.”
Of the two riders, Lorenzo was the more outspoken about his desire to get the technology. The gearbox allows for smoother corner exits that don’t upset the motorcycle. One of Yamaha’s current problems is pumping on corner exit. The other is a lack of acceleration, which can also be partially traced to the gearbox.
“Yes, of course it is better to have this gearbox rather than not; it makes some difference on acceleration on the long corners on full throttle and upshifts, like in Qatar,” Lorenzo said. “But for the moment, we don't have it and we don’t know if the regulation will change and this gearbox will be forbidden in one or two years. I don't know. Luckily, we have some other strong points like the braking for the speed corners, but when we pick up the bike we need to improve it.”
Asked whether there was any talk among the governing bodies that the gearbox would be outlawed by the FIM, HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto said, “No, never.” When it was pointed out that the cost of the transmission was quite high, Nakamoto countered by saying, “Now much, much cheaper, because we have two years experience,” he said. “Cost is almost half. I’m not saying half, big. Now cost is almost same as a standard.” Still, the seamless shift gearbox won’t be included on the production Honda RC213V which Honda will sell next year for €1 million Euros ($1.36 million USD).
Lorenzo said that with the transmission “the Honda guys don't have to take so many risks in the corners, just pick up the bike and they have something more. But it is opposite on the braking; it seems we are stronger, but finally in lap times we are quite competitive."
Lorenzo was hopeful that the cost of development wouldn’t prevent Yamaha from adapting the technology to the YZR-M1.
“I hope they will make it in the future,” he said, “but it seems it will be difficult for this year, or maybe in 2014 if they cannot do it this year.”
For Rossi the “seamless is very good. Is an advantage for sure. Also for the rider is a lot more easy.”
His belief is that he doesn’t know if it will arrive this year or not. Asked if Yamaha had given him an answer, he replied the answer was “No. This is the answer. But we hope.”