No, Yoshimura USA is not leaving the AMA Superbike series now that legendary and supreme development rider Mat Mladin is in retirement, and they stand to take a walloping in 2010 from Yamaha, based on results from the last part of the 2009 AMA season.
This is rather the Yoshimura parent company in Japan that is abandoning the Japanese Superbike Championship to run four WSBK events and the Suzuka 300 and 8-Hours endurance races. In fact, Yosh Japan is talking about a full season of WSBK for 2011. They plan on using stalwart Suzuki rider Yukio Kagayama on weekends when he is not busy riding in the British Superbike Championship.
Yoshimura officials cite two reasons for the move. As a matter of principle, they do not like the new Japanese Superbike regulations, whereby the machines are getting closer to stock machines as a cost cutting move, just like the British, German, French, American and Canadian series do. Yosh Japan would rather keep developing and racing highly modified and expensive bikes, closer to WSBK specs. Team principals also cited poor decisions on the part of Japanese series officials when it comes to rules interpretation as further reason to pull out.
Well, never mind the political fights in Japanese racing. Insisting on more expensive bikes in the midst of a full blown recession in bike sales (New bike shipments from Japan are down more than 50% in September 2009 vs 2008) sounds out of whack to me - Unless you need all those expensive improvements to turn your stockers, mass-produced at a set price point to appeal to the masses, into race winners.
Superbikes prepared in Japan, close to the factories, have always been special, as in quicker than those built elsewhere. It will certainly be interesting to see how the Yosh bikes perform against the Euro-based competition, on their home tracks, for which the Yoshimura team will have very little set-up information.
Photo Credit : Yoshimura Suzuki