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Yamaha's history from 1955 to 2005 – Part 2

Yamaha's history from 1955 to 2005 – Part 2

Yamaha's history from 1955 to 2005 – Part 2

1955-1957: Yamaha conquers Japan at its first attempt

Yamaha's remarkable debut victory in the 1955 Mount Fuji Ascent Race was no one-off fluke. Encouraged by its success on the dirt tracks around Japan's most famous volcano, the factory entered four revised YA1s in the Asama Highlands endurance race four months later. Yamaha surpassed its Fuji performance at Asama, filling the first four finishing positions and routing the opposition, including official entries from Honda, this commencing an inter-factory duel that continues to this day. In just a few months Yamaha had come from nowhere to establish itself as the force to beat in Japanese racing.

In fact the company's roots date back to the late 19th century when Torakusu Yamaha began producing musical instruments, hence the company's famous triple tuning forks logo. After the Second World War, company bosses wanted to expand into other markets to ensure Yamaha's future. Cars, three-wheelers and sewing machines were considered but finally it was decided that Japan's burgeoning motorcycle market offered the best prospects, even if there were more than 100 Japanese motorcycle brands at the time. Of course, some bike dealers didn't take the first Yamaha too seriously; "So Yamaha built a motorcycle" they'd say. "Does the engine go ‘do-re-mi-fa-sol?'." After Fuji and Asama, there were no more jokes.

About 1,000 YA1s had been produced by the time of its glorious race debut, establishing the strong link between Yamaha road and race bikes that continues to this day. "These first great victories gave us precious technical data to develop better machines as well as the finest publicity," said Yamaha's first race team manager Zenzaburo Watase.

Two years later Yamaha returned to Asama with the YA2, a much-improved version of the YA1, and the YD1, the marque's first 250. The YD1 was an air-cooled, piston ported twin, good for 115 kmh / 71 mph. Once again Yamaha reigned supreme, scoring a one-two in the 125 race and a stunning one-two-three in the 250s. Yamaha had conquered Japan, the world was next…

MotoGP, 2005

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