The first official race with the 2WD system was the 1998 Gotland Grand National motocross race. Our two test drivers Thorleif Hansen and Mats Nilsson made a really good race despite the fact that we could not compete in the same class as the others as the race followed the FIM rule book.
A front wheel spin at the 1998 Gotland Grand National
Mats Nilsson came in on a third place in the overall result list despite a 5 minute stop due to lack of petrol and Thorleif Hansen who just had turned 50 crushed all competition in his class and won by as much as 15 minutes or so.
This made Yamaha confident that they could launch their production MX bike… but it took another six years before it happened.
JCO with his WR426 at the 2001 Shamrock race in Marocco
But things didn’t stop at this point. We continued to test and develop our system throughout the years and together with the legendary rider and Yamaha France boss Jean-Claude “ JCO” Olivier and David Frétigné we made tremendous accomplishments in several races.
David Frétingné at the 2004 Paris-Dakar
David crossed the finish line in the 2004 Paris-Dakar as the overall 7th rider and he actually won the opening three rounds of that Dakar with our 2WD system.
JCO was riding hard in every race despite his respectable age and we actually won the tough Moroccan Shamrock race three times.
Today I can actually laugh at a special episode when we rode the Le Touquet in 2003, an infamous sand race with a part of the track that went straight up hill on a huge sand dune close to the sea. A lot of spectators gathered there to help the riders that often had huge problems getting over the edge. One spectator actually grabbed our bike in one of the hydraulic hoses in the front wheel and actually pulled it straight off.
TT600R at a race in Sardinia in 1999
A part from racing hard with the system we made some really crazy long run tests. One test was a 3000 km endurance test and 1000 km was designated to take place on a motocross track. 6 riders in total rode two bikes non stop around the track and things turned out really great. We did a lot of those tests, mostly in Spain in the beginning of 2003-2004.
No one can ever say that our system has not been tested thoroughly.