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Yamaha's history from 1955 to 2005 – Part 10

Yamaha's history from 1955 to 2005 – Part 10

Yamaha's history from 1955 to 2005 – Part 10

250cc domination

When Frenchman Olivier Jacque won the 2000 250 title, beating team-mate Shinya Nakano at the season-ending Australian GP, he brought to a close three decades of Yamaha factory involvement in the 250 World Championship. OJ's world title was Yamaha's 14th 250 riders' crown and also helped secure the factory's 14th 250 constructors' title.

Jacque won the championship riding a YZR250, a fine-handling machine powered by a V-twin engine that originated in the mid-80s as half a YZR500. Like its half-litre brother, the YZR250 featured a Yamaha Deltabox chassis for maximum rigidity. Yamaha introduced the YZR once factory involvement from rival factories had ensured that its TZ250 production machine was no longer up to winning the quarter-litre world title. The first YZR250s were ridden by mercurial Venezuelan Carlos Lavado, nicknamed Careless Bravado for his dramatic win-at-all-costs riding style. Lavado had won the 1983 title aboard a TZ, rode the YZR to the '86 title despite crashing out of several races.

Four years later another amazing talent returned Yamaha to the top in 250s. American John Kocinski had first come into GPs in the late 80's under the tutelage of King Kenny Roberts. Hard-riding, big-talking Kocinski won the title in 1990, his first full GP season, to give Yamaha the 250/500 double. He then moved onto the 500s.

In 1993 Japanese ace Tetsuya Harada repeated Kocinski's rookie success, recovering from a midseason tumble to clinch the title at the final round aboard his V-twin, now renamed the TZM250. Yamaha then took a sabbatical from the class, returning in 1999 with Frenchman Olivier Jacque and team-mate Shinya Nakano. The pair dominated the 2000 season, going into the final round just two points apart. Jacque shadowed Nakano throughout the race, bravely leaving his move to the final few hundred metres, when he drafted past the Japanese to win the title by 0.014s and five points.

Not always the quickest 250 in a straight line, the YZR was successful because it was a superbly user-friendly package that allowed its riders to get away with things that were virtually impossible on other bikes.

MotoGP, 2005

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