Why Yamaha still can’t reverse its sudden MotoGP slump

Yamaha tumbled out of title contention during 2017 despite starting out dominant. It begins the new season with two troubled riders and strong hints that it doesn’t know how to solve its problems.

After a chastening 2017 MotoGP season, the stakes couldn’t have been much higher for Yamaha in winter testing, with just nine days of on-track running for the team to ensure the ’18 version of its M1 didn’t share the same characteristics as its ill-fated predecessor.

Despite an encouraging start at Sepang at the end of January, by the time Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales wrapped up three days of testing at the all-new Buriram circuit in Thailand in February it looked for all the world as if the two works Yamaha riders were suffering from the exact same issues that blighted their campaign in 2017.

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