Yamaha's newest flagship consumer model will turn into its flagship race machine, as Yamaha Motor Corp. re-enters the terrain racing fray.
Yamaha will give full factory support to champion cross-country racer Corey Davidson, Holt, Minn., as he pilots a Yamaha Apex RXT in the United States Cross Country race series. This series includes the International 500 race, which is the most prestigious cross-country race in the lower 48 states. Davidson has won this race three times on a Polaris.
Yamaha exited snocross racing following the 2001-02 season, citing a commitment to four-stroke development and a focus on consumer sleds.
Yamaha machines have made appearances in some snocross races since then, but not with factory backing. Yamaha does support racing in the enduro racing circuits of Michigan, including the Soo I-500 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. This year, OE drivers took second and third place.
Yamaha now sees this racing as a proving-ground for its newest machines. “Having a recognized cross-country and enduro champion like Corey Davidson aboard our Yamaha Apex RTX provides Team Yamaha with a proven star who can bring Yamaha four-stroke performance to a new level of success,” said Rob Powers, Yamaha Snowmobile Marketing Manager. “Competition in cross-country events brings a new dimension to Yamaha 'rough trail development' that closely approximates 'real-world' riding by hard-core riders.”
Davidson will be joined by Chad Gueco, 21, of Wasilla, Alaska. Gueco raced Yamahas in the enduro circuit last year under the banner of Pierce Racing, Greenbush, Minn. Gueco will split his season between cross-country and enduro racing. Though he's focused on enduro racing for the past few seasons, Gueco has dabbled in many forms of snowmobile racing.
“We'll run a stock-based Apex RTX in the Pro Open class,” Powers said. “That's a class where you can make developmental changes that may be seen in future rough trail machines.”
IS SNOCROSS NEXT?
People at Yamaha were coy about a possible re-entry into the snocross racing arena.
Yamaha Snowmobile Product Planning Manager Greg Marier, who also heads the company's snowmobile race department, said veteran terrain racer Jesse Strege is under contract to do “projects” for Yamaha. Strege's primary focus is to test and evaluate suspension designs, suspension calibrations, ergonomics and handling characteristics, Marier said.
Strege raced snocross professionally Yamaha in the 1996-1997 season. He's also raced for Arctic Cat and Polaris. He was the team manager for Fertile, Minnesota's Christian Brothers Racing for the past two seasons, and won the World Snowmobile Association (WSA) Pro Plus 35 points title last year.
Copyright 2005 Powersports Business