Yamaha’s American star Justin Barcia is out of the weekend’s SMX Riders’ Cup “due to a conflict with team contracts” and MX2 GP-star and 2016 MXoN champion, Benoit Paturel, is also off the team. Yamaha say he is forced to stay at home for “logistical reasons.” Yamaha has drafted in 19-year-old French supercross specialist Yannis Irsuti who will ride alongside 2015 MXGP World Champion Romain Febvre and Kemea Yamaha’s MX2 rider Brent Van Doninck.
Yamaha’s Paolo Pavesio said: “It’s a unique pleasure to be able to select a Yamaha team of top riders from across different racing teams and classes to make one formidable off-road attack force! We are confident that Romain will lead Brent and Yannis to an impressive performance, doing their best to bring victory for Yamaha and of course some serious off-road entertainment for the fans.”
It’s rumoured Barcia’s JGR team is contemplating switching from Yamaha to Suzuki next season, which could be the reason behind the no-show. Next year, Suzuki’s two factory-backed teams – the RCH squad and the Yoshimura squad – will be merged into one team, leaving Yoshi’s James Stewart without a ride. It’s possible JGR will get help from Suzuki to run a satellite team.
At Veltins Arena event, Yamaha will also host the Superfinale to its season-long European youth motocross championship, the YZ125 Cup. Young riders will gather to compete for a chance to attend a MasterClass motocross camp with 2008 FIM Motocross World Champion David Philippaerts and one guaranteed professional contract in 2017 to race for Yamaha in the EMX125 Championship.