It was an engine fail that destroyed Valentino Rossi’s chances on his home track, but one very nearly put Jorge Lorenzo out of commission as well. Yamaha had to do a serious post mortem and this is what they found.
— MotoGP™ (@MotoGP) June 2, 2016
Jorge Lorenzo’s engine was the first to show signs of trouble, sputtering in a troubling fashion during early morning warm-up. It’s a good thing his mechanical issue was so fortuitously timed or he could well have ended up like Rossi, who exited the race in a theatrical puff of smoke. After all, as Yamaha discovered, their issues were exactly the same thing.
“The failures were caused by an electronic issue related to the rev limiter which ultimately resulted in valve and piston damage. The cause for both Jorge and Valentino’s engine failures was the same. To be clear, there was neither an engine component nor a structural failure, it was purely an electronic control issue.
“Valentino’s failure was caused by an accidental over rev in acceleration that occurred jumping over a crest with full throttle at the end of a straight. This failure was not in any way related to the mistake made by Valentino at the San Donato corner on the lap before.”
Kouji Tsuya, Yamaha YZR-M1 Project Leader
Because two subsequent engine failures never bode well for a team’s mechanics, Yamaha has been particularly sensitive to accusations of unreliability and inherent design weakness. Tsuya cites software incompatibility as the overriding issue rather than any fundamental flaw in Yamaha engines.
“We have such a strong history of engine reliability and this fact does not change after this incident; the engines had no problems, but we were not aware of the different behaviour of the standard ECU software, that made the rev limiter work in a different way compared to last year. We set the rev limiter using last year’s data in exactly the same way as we did last year, but we could not be aware that the software worked in a different way.”
It looks like they’ve made a good faith effort to change the mechanics up on the bike. But it remains to be seen if their engines really are up to the task of getting the likes of Rossi and Lorenzo past the finish line onto the podium. Then again, should the engines prove to be treacherous once more, it may just be a question of which of the storied rivals fails first.