Rumor has it that Yamaha made a public debut of its version of a MotoGP holeshot device at the Sepang Test.
After special launch devices fitted to Ducati and Aprilia, some of the 2020 Factory M1 appeared with a new mechanical switch (electronic suspension adjustment is not allowed) on the upper left side of the bike.
holeshot device? Is that you? #SepangTest pic.twitter.com/Vb6LcoXCGH
— MotoGP (@MotoGP) February 9, 2020
Subsequent practice starts showed the rear of the M1 crouching when the rider flipped the switch, mimicking the Ducati system. The Aprilia version is mounted on the front suspension.
Holeshot devices therefore work by temporarily locking the suspension in a compressed position lowers the center of gravity and helps prevent wheelies, which are the limiting factor for maximum MotoGP acceleration.
Holeshot devices Yamaha M1 #sepangTest
Video: @Vi3Mu pic.twitter.com/Wyniq6FU8K
— tmcblog taufik (@motoupdate) February 8, 2020
Maverick Vinales, Monster Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi and test rider Kohta Nozane had the holeshot device fitted to their M1s at Sepang.
Vinales and Rossi revealed little about the system, with the Italian only saying “it’s not that bad but unfortunately we have to work before we can use it,” while Vinales joked that he can touch the ground more easily now:
“I’m small. I am not tall. At least that way I can hold on to the bike better!” he smiled. “I was very scared before. Now I can hold on to the bike better. That was good!”
It’s not clear when Rossi tried the system, but Nozane definitely used it by the end of the second day.
Vinales – who says starts are crucial to his World Championship fights after having lost ground frequently at turn one in previous years – was then the only rider to use the special practice start time at the end of day three :
Vinales lowers the rear of his M1 with the holeshot device at the Sepang Test.
Maybe it was just the angle of the pictures, but it also looked like the front of Vinales’ Yamaha was low during his practice starts. In which case could Yamaha have developed a double strength holeshot device?
Time will tell, but Vinales made several small “stops” (braking hard enough to lift the rear wheel slightly off the ground) as he got to the grid. He may have just checked/warmed up his brakes or wanted to repeat everything he would normally do before a real race start, but it was also exactly the behavior needed to load and lock up the front suspension… The rear suspension was lowered after Vinales came to a standstill.
There was no holeshot device switch on Quartararo’s bike during his practice starts. #SepangTest pic.twitter.com/e80fG51FRI
— Peter McLaren (@McLarenMotoGP) February 9, 2020
While Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo, who also has a factory-spec M1, made many pitlane-end practice starts on the final day, he didn’t have a holeshot system.
“No. I know that Yamaha is working on a new system for the holeshot. They’re on it, so we’ll use it when they’re 100% sure,” said the Frenchman, who was fastest on all three days of testing.
If a rider brakes hard into turn one, the Holeshot system should release the suspension and it wasn’t thought of being reused for the rest of the race… Although there are rumours, Ducati may have found a way to get their riders also lowering the bike in areas of heavy braking/acceleration.
Suzuki is believed to be working on a holeshot device for 2020, but like Honda and KTM, it didn’t appear to have anything on its bikes at Sepang.
For comparison: Petrucci practice start with Ducati Holeshot device, Brno 2019.