First-time wins for Norifumi Abe and Louis Capirossi!
Abe becomes the highest ranked Yamaha rider with 5th place
Norifumi (Norick) Abe, Jean Michel Bayle, Kenny Roberts Jr. competed from the Marlboro Yamaha Team International Roberts and Louis Capirossi from the Marlboro Yamaha Team International Rainey Yamaha this season. Abe finished the season ranked 5th after taking his first-ever GP win in round three in Japan. He also scored consecutive 3rd-place finishes in the ninth and tenth rounds, and a podium finish in the 14th round. Capirossi began the season well by finishing 3rd in round two, but he struggled in mid-season. He did manage to take his first-ever GP win in the final round in Australia. Unfortunately his no-pointers meant that he ended up ranked 10th. Yamaha finished 2nd in the manufacturer's ranking by a large margin behind Honda, as these were the only wins by Yamaha riders.
Abe finished 8th and 9th respectively in the opening rounds in Malaysia and Indonesia, but he was back on form in the following race in the Japan GP on his familiar Suzuka circuit. He qualified in 11th, but he took the lead in lap eight and extended it towards the end of the race. He rode lap times in the 2'09s range, which was quicker than his qualifying lap time, and then clinched his first career victory with a 7-second lead over Alex Criville (Honda). From the start of the European rounds at round four, Abe took a fall that caused him to pull out of the race. In round five with an 11th place, his position dropped down to sixth in the season ranking. Returning to form in round six in France with a 4th place, followed by 6th-place finishes in the Netherlands and Germany, brought consistency to his performance. In round nine in Britain, Abe quickly overtook Tadayuki Okada (Honda) and Scott Russel (Suzuki) to move into 3rd position, which gave him his second podium finish for the season. He then went on to claim 3rd place in round 10 in Austria. However, Abe ran off the track in the 11th and 12th rounds in the Czech Republic and Imola, finishing in 11th and 10th respectively. Fortunately, the Brazil track suited Abe's riding style, and it showed when he achieved a 3rd-place finish, the same as he did the previous year. Taking his fourth podium finish of the season helped to move his ranking up 4th. In the final round in Australia, where there had been hope of Abe finishing 3rd in the season ranking, a crash near the end of the race while running in 6th dropped his final rank down to 5th.
Jean-Michel Bayle, a Frenchman who came into the Road Race scene after winning a Motocross World Championship title and AMA Supercross title, finished 6th in the opening round and subsequently continued to add to his points tally consistently. However, he had to retire from races in the middle part of the season after a few spills off the bike. But after his first pole position in the 11th round in the Czech Republic, and the personal best for the season with a placing of 4th in round 12. Bayle finished the season ranked 9th. Kenny Roberts Jr. sat out the first two races of the season due to injury, but finished 13th overall, helped by a 4th as his personal best of the season, as well as two 5th-place finishes, and one 6th-place finish.
Capirossi began the season well by finishing 3rd in round two, but he struggled in mid-season with a series of no-pointers. But his fortunes turned around in the final round in Australia. In the final lap, the two Honda riders Michael Doohan and Alex Criville were leading, with Capirossi three seconds behind. In a dramatic turnaround, Capriossi emerged the winner to take his first-ever win in the 500cc class after the Honda duo collided with each other. Out of the 32 riders who were awarded points, 16 were on YZR500's or machines powered by Yamaha engines (ROC Yamaha / Harris Yamaha).
Harada finishes 8th in the ranking, Sete Gibernau joins late-season
Tetsuya Harada competed for Marlboro Yamaha Team International Rainey, and the YZR250 factory machine was reintroduced from this year. Despite winning the second round in Indonesia and accumulating two 2nd-place finishes and one 3rd-place finish, Harada ended the season ranked 8th due to some no-pointers during the season. In the last three races of the season, Sete Gibernau replaced Harada to race on the YZR250, and he achieved his personal best in the 14th round by finishing 8th.
Cate. Rider Machine 500cc Norifumi Abe YZR500(0WJ1) 500cc Jean.Michel Bayle YZR500(0WJ1) 500cc Kenny Roberts Jr YZR500(0WJ1) 500cc Loris Capirossi YZR500(0WJ1) 250cc Tetsuya Harada YZR250
Pos. Cate. Rider Constructor Point 1 500cc M.Doohan Honda 309 2 500cc A. Criville Honda 245 3 500cc L. Cadalora Honda 168 4 500cc A. Barros Honda 158 5 500cc N. Abe Yamaha 148 6 500cc S. Russell Suzuki 133 9 500cc J. M.Bayle Yamaha 110 10 500cc L. Capirossi Yamaha 98 13 500cc K. Roberts Jr Yamaha 69 Pos. Cate. Rider Constructor Point 1 250cc M. Biaggi Aprilia 274 2 250cc R. Waldmann Honda 268 3 250cc O. Jacque Honda 193 4 250cc J. Fuchs Honda 174 5 250cc T. Ukawa Honda 142 6 250cc L. D'Antin Honda 138 8 250cc T. Harada Yamaha 104
Pos. Constructor Point 1 Honda 365 2 Yamaha 216 3 Suzuki 152 4 ROC Yamaha 53 5 Elf500 35 6 Aprilia 24 7 Harris Yamaha 11 8 Paton 1 Pos. Constructor Point 1 Honda 305 2 Aprilia 304 3 Yamaha 121 4 Suzuki 20