Yamaha has accumulated 182 MotoGP / GP 500cc motorcycle racing victories to-date, and six Yamaha riders have won the Rider Championship a total of 15 times, while Yamaha has won the Manufacturer Championship title 13 times.
Enter 2011 without Valentino Rossi and his crew, Yamaha will try once again to protect their MotoGP turf from likes of Ducati (Corse) and Honda (HRC) Factory motorcycle racing teams.
Ducati returns with a revised GP11 race bike along with the rejuvenated American Nicky Hayden. The Kentucky dirt-tracker is accompanied by the passionate and ultra competitive Valentino Rossi, as the Italian is looking to collect his 10th GP world title.
Honda returns with an update RC212V straddled by the returning and very capable Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso. Honda has also pursued and landed a championship-winning rider, Ducati-defector Casey Stoner, as the third Repsol rider.
The addition of the third Repsol MotoGP rider, increase to the race budget and strong words coming from HRC leadership makes it apparent that Honda is getting tired of losing.
With that said, Yamaha has set a big goal of winning its fourth consecutive MotoGP triple crown; rider, manufacturer and team titles. Same as last season, Yamaha will be competing with two teams fielding four premier class riders in all.
Riding for the Yamaha Factory team will be 2010 MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo and his new teammate, Ben Spies. Returning as team manager is Wilco Zeelenberg.
Joining the Factory Team, in the position of team director, will be Massimo Meregalli, who has previously led Yamaha teams in World Superbike and World Supersport.
Meanwhile, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team led by Herve Poncharal returns after a successful 2010 season in which it finished as the best privateer team. Bringing his wealth of MotoGP experience to the team again this year is veteran rider Colin Edwards.
His new teammate will be Cal Crutchlow, who moves up from World SBK this season. It is hoped that Crutchlow will make the same kind of successful transition to MotoGP that Spies made on this team last year.
The Yamaha YZR-M1 is currently the most successful motorcycle in the MotorGP, having won five titles thus far, four ridden by Valentino Rossi and one by Jorge Lorenzo.
The question stands, can Yamaha hold off Vale, the man who of developed this race bike? Rossi will have to come out swing to break the momentum of Jorge Lorenzo. Or is the one-two-three punch of the Stoner-Pedrosa-Dovizioso Honda team going to be too much handle?
The second official test of the 2011 MotoGP season returns to Sepang on Feb 21. I have a feeling that awaiting race fans will have questions then clues until the flag drops on the first race in Qatar on March 20 at the Losail circuit.