No wins despite fielding six YZR-M1s
Barros takes 3rd in the French GP
After the transition period in 2002 competed by a mix of 4-stroke and 2-stroke machines, 2003 was the first year of the 4-stroke dominated MotoGP. Yamaha competed only with its 4-stroke YZR-M1 this year. Carlos Checa, Marco Melandri, Alex Barros, Olivier Jacque, Shinya Nakano, and Norifumi Abe (spot entrant) took on the season as Yamaha riders. Barros was plagued by an injury, and he finished 9th overall with his best finish of third in the fourth round in France. Checa finished 7th overall, and Nakano 10th. YZR-M1 was unable to win any race this season.
Barros was the only rider on the YZR-M1 who was able to make it to the podium this season. He crashed in the opening race, which resulted in an injury, and for most of the season, he was unable to race unaffected by injuries. In the fourth round in France, however, Barros took 3rd place in difficult wet track conditions that cause the racing to be suspended. He took one 5th- and one 6th-place finish. Eventually his season ended without him being able to show his true potential.
Checa finished 9th in the opening round, followed by a 10th in round two. He no-pointed due to machine trouble and a crash in rounds three and four. In the beginning of the season in Catalunya, Checa narrowly missed the last podium position by five-tenths of a second to finish 4th. He finished 4th again in the Netherlands GP. In the 10th round in The Czech Republic, he took his third 4th-place finish of the season. However, the no-pointers in the three races dropped him to 7th in the season ranking.
Nakano finished with consecutive 5th-place finishes in the fifth and sixth rounds, which were his best results of the season. He also gained points with results including two 7th places and three 8th places. His only no-pointer was the final race, making him one of the more consistent of the Yamaha riders. He was tied in points with Barros at the end of the season. His teammate, Jacque, finished 12th in the ranking with a 4th as his best finish of the season, as well as one 5th and one 6th. His low season ranking was due to crashes or injuries.
Melandri, the 250cc champion of the previous year, joined Yamaha from this year. He missed some races due to injuries early on in the season. He also struggled with the new machine and wasn't to accumulate any points. However, during the latter part of the season he found increased confidence and at some points he fought for top positions. Melandri took his season's best result of 5th in round 13, the Pacific GP. In round 15 in Australia, he emerged in front and led the race. Though he eventually crashed out of that race, it showed considerable promise of the young rookie. Abe took points in the five races he participated in, and finished 16th in the ranking.
Naoki Matsudo raced for the Yamaha Kurz team full-season on the production racer TZ250. He finished 9th in the ranking by gaining points in 14 out of the 16 races, including three 5th-place finishes, one 6th-place finish, and three 7th-place finishes.
Cate. Rider Machine MotoGP Carlos Checa YZR-M1(0WN3) MotoGP Marco Melandri YZR-M1(0WN3) MotoGP Alex Barros YZR-M1(0WN3) MotoGP Olivier Jacque YZR-M1(0WN3) MotoGP Shinya Nakano YZR-M1(0WN3)
Pos. Cate. Rider Constructor Point 1 MotoGP V. Rossi Honda 357 2 MotoGP S. Gibernau Honda 277 3 MotoGP M. Biaggi Honda 228 4 MotoGP L. Capirossi Ducati 117 5 MotoGP N. Hayden Honda 130 6 MotoGP T. Bayliss Ducati 128 7 MotoGP C. Checa Yamaha 123 9 MotoGP A. Barros Yamaha 101 10 MotoGP S. Nakano Yamaha 101 12 MotoGP O. Jacque Yamaha 71 15 MotoGP M. Melandri Yamaha 45 16 MotoGP N. Abe Yamaha 31
Pos. Constructor Point 1 Honda 395 2 Ducati 225 3 Yamaha 175 4 Aprilia 81 5 Suzuki 43 6 ProtonKR 38