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controversy as they are considered to pose a certain risk in

case of an accident. Dorna responded by banning winglets in

Moto2 and Moto3, but didn’t follow suit in the queen class –

probably because of the rule freeze that was part of the MSMA

deal.

The 2016 MotoGP Season starts with a number of unknown

variables that could unpredictably take center stage at any

given point. Add to these the fact that almost all the main

riders’ contracts end this year, so a lot of interest will inevitably

deviate from racing itself to who’s going where. As yet the only

confirmed rider is Valentino Rossi who just inked a two-year

extension to his Yamaha contract. With Lorenzo rumored to

have in his hands an astronomical offer from Ducati – next to

an extension offer from Yamaha – things are looking very

intriguing. And we still haven’t heard from Honda.

Now let’s take a look at the manufacturers and their weapons

of choice for this year.

There is no question that Yamaha has the best motorcycles on

the MotoGP grid at this time. Its two factory riders, Jorge

Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, monopolized the 2015

championship, culminating in a dramatic decider at the very

last race in Valencia.

For 2016 both riders are expected to be among the main title

contenders, but their fragile relation is also an important factor

in this year’s equation, especially when the matter comes to

contract decisions.

The YZR-M1 is powered by an in-line four cylinder motor with

crossplane crankshaft, housed in an aluminum deltabox frame,

and coupled with Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension.

Yamaha also came up with its own version of a seamless gear

box, which debuted last year and immediately was deemed

effective by the team’s riders.

The M1’s main advantage is maneuverability, showing its best

face in corner entry and exit. It is no surprise that the best

satellite team of the championship is consistently Monster

Yamaha Tech 3, with its two very talented young riders Bradley

Smith and Pol Espargaro.

During recent years the M1 was losing in terms of absolute

power to Ducati and Honda, as both factory Yamaha bikes

faced a considerable gap in top speed. Apparently it didn’t

keep them from dominating the 2015 championship, while the

new rule allowing for 22 liters of fuel should help make up for

lost ground – Yamaha was running a 20-liter tank last year.

In 2013 and 2014 Honda’s RC213V was the motorcycle to

have, with the new star rider Marc Marquez breaking every

record that involved the words “younger” and “rookie” on the

way to two consecutive world titles.

Problems started surfacing early last year, with Marquez falling

in several races. As it turned out, Honda’s updates on the RCV

engine and a new frame made the bike too nervous. Marquez

can perform miracles under any circumstances on a qualifying

run, but to his own admittance keeping up with the Yamahas

over race distance meant riding constantly on the limit and

taking too many risks – evidently explaining why he dropped

out of six races in 2015. As the rules do not allow

manufacturers to further develop their engines throughout the

year, Honda had no other option than to look to the frame,

suspensions and electronics for a solution.

This year seems to start like a repetition of 2015. Marquez can

still deliver outstanding results, but insists that his bike is