If you’re a motorcycle racing fan, you’ve probably noticed the shifting landscape in the road racing ranks by now. Large-capacity twins can now line up on supersport grids worldwide and twin-powered sportbikes have also gained popularity in the lower classes. With young American riders climbing through MotoAmerica’s Junior Cup and Twins Cup series, the market continues to adapt to the new norms.
When Aprilia released the RS 660 in October, 2020, the twin-powered supersport quickly rose to the top of the MotoAmerica Twins Cup crop. In 2021, Aprilia rider Kaleb De Keyrel clinched the Twin Cup championship by a landslide, racking up 234 points over the course of the 14-race season. Yamaha rider Hayden Schultz may have finished second in the rider standings, but his 166 points left him 68 points behind the Aprilia man.
Yamaha introduced the YZF-R7 in May, 2021, to compete in categories such as MotoAmerica’s Twins Cup, but with its CP2 engine pumping out 74 ponies, the RS 660 still enjoyed a hefty horsepower advantage. As a result, any R7 team opposing Aprilia’s Twins Cup dominance has a tall task on their hands. If any team can challenge that reign, though, it’s Yoshimura R&D of America.
To help the squad test and develop its race-prepped R7, Yoshimura enlisted the help of RevZilla Common Tread journalist and accomplished road racer Ari Henning. Alongside the R&D team, Henning will continue testing the project with hopes of racing the Yoshimura R7 at the MotoAmerica Twins Cup Laguna Seca round on July 8-10, 2022.
“Rather than sampling the bike and interviewing the team once all is said and done, I’ll be working with Yoshimura to develop the machine, and if all goes well, taking a position on the starting grid in Monterey this summer,” explained Henning. “This is an incredible opportunity, and as someone who loves wrenching and experimenting as much as I enjoy racing, embedding with an organization as talented and resourced as Yoshimura is a bucket-list item I wouldn’t have ever dreamed of.”
The project may only be slated for one race of the 2022 Twins Cup season, but the team hopes to develop race-bred R7 parts through the program. Of course, we can't wait to see Henning’s Laguna Seca results, but hopefully, Yoshimura’s hard work will make the R7 even more competitive in the future.