Despite a challenging 2022 MotoGP season, Yamaha CEO Massimo Meregalli claims the Japanese manufacturer “would never give up on” putting Franco Morbidelli back to his race-winning speed from 2020.
On his Petronas SRT-driven 2019-spec M1, Morbidelli was Yamaha’s top racer in 2020. The Italian won three races and lost the title to Suzuki’s Joan Mir.
Since then, he has had trouble regaining that form. His 2021 season was marred by an ageing bike and physical issues, and joining the factory team forced him to deal with a challenging transition to the 2022-spec Yamaha.
Morbidelli’s career for 2023 was briefly in doubt despite having a contract in place because he was now ranked 19th in the rankings with only 25 points to his name compared to colleague Fabio Quartararo’s 172 points at the top of the table.
Yamaha, though, is dedicated to upholding that and is making efforts to restore him to his prior status.
“At the moment Fabio is really the only one who can exploit the good points of the Yamaha, but we are really working hard to try to get back Franco where he was in 2020,” Meregalli said ahead of the summer break last month.
“We all know his capability and we will never give up until we reach this target. We are convinced about the speed and the performance Franco has.
“At this moment we are really looking for a solution that will allow him to be more comfortable on the bike, to be faster and consistent because probably the race results don’t show what he is doing in the recent races.
“But the pace he is showing in the practices is already improving.”
Morbidelli’s qualification performance, according to Meregalli, is what conceals the real speed improvements he has achieved this year.
“What he’s missing now is the time attack,” Meregalli explained. “It’s also very difficult to understand.
“He complains about that he has too much grip and he can’t turn and let the bike spin as he would like.
“I’m quite convinced with a better starting position for sure his results in races will definitely be better. It’s not easy for us to recover positions during the race.
“So, for the moment we will achieve the goal to take him to starting more towards the front we will start seeing Franky back on his speed.”
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Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha, Franco Morbidelli, MOTO, Moto racing, Motocross, MotoGP, MXGP, Suzuki