There have been ongoing speculations about the release of a Yamaha R9, with sources from the WorldSBK paddock hinting that it may finally arrive before the year’s end.
Currently, WorldSBK is conducting tests as they prepare for the beginning of their 2024 season in Phillip Island later this month. Eurosport’s own Greg Haines was on location and has overheard speculation that hints at the potential departure of the Yamaha R6 from the World Supersport Championship after this upcoming season.
The 599cc R6 was first introduced in WorldSSP back in 2017 and has since been the dominant bike, claiming every title until 2022. However, last year, Nicolo Bulega and the 955cc Ducati Panigale V2 emerged victorious.
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This particular bike has not been advertised as a road bike in recent years – it is currently only available as a GYTR-kitted track bike. While that may be acceptable, it is not exactly the formula for the surefire financial success that a 600cc supersports bike used to guarantee. In fact, on the WorldSSP grid of 2024, there are only two other 600cc bikes present: the Kawasaki ZX-6R and Honda CBR600RR. While both managed to win races last season, it cannot be denied that they were not consistently on par with other bikes, including the R6.
In the year 2022, the Supersport category underwent a transformation with revised rules that opened up the opportunity for bigger motorcycles such as the Panigale V2 mentioned earlier to participate. Additional models that have seized this opportunity include the Triumph Street Triple RS 765 and MV Agusta F3 800.
A Yamaha R9 would be the most extreme example of taking advantage of the new regulations, as it features a cross-plane 890cc three-cylinder engine that can compete with conventional 765cc three-cylinders, four-cylinder 600s, an 798cc F3 800 three-cylinder, and the 955cc Panigale twin.
However, that is what Greg Haines suggests could be the potential reality of expecting an R9.
Naturally, an R9 must meet the requirements for inclusion in the production-oriented World Supersport Championship. This entails being produced and sold to the general public, indicating that we might see it available at dealerships by early next year if it were to take over for the R6 in WSSP swiftly.
In the past year, Yamaha secured rights to the names “R9” and “YZF-R9” in various regions including Europe, Japan, and India. This also included obtaining trademarks for other models such as “R2” and “R4”, as well as those with the prefix “YZF-“.