Features 3 Oct 2019

Industry: Yamaha Motor Australia’s Scott Bishop

Development supervisor on Yamaha's significant presence at Gillman's AJMX.

Yamaha Motor Australia boasts one of the largest pit areas at the 2019 KTM Australian Junior Motocross Championship (AJMX) in Gillman, South Australia, the manufacturer placing significant support behind the next generation of racers. In this Industry interview, Yamaha Motor Australia development supervisor Scott Bishop outlines the brand’s support program and why the AJMX has such importance to the company.

Image: Foremost Media.

We’re here at the 2019 Australian Junior Motocross Championship and the Yamaha Junior Racing team is in full force, what sort of level of support do you provide these kids?

We have 14 riders across YJR, all of which have the same opportunities, the same sponsorship and product amounts – they’re all considered equals, so no one gets more or less – it’s the same for everyone. YJR is done on a state by state basis, where we have more of a hands on role with the rider – so we have someone in each state who can work with them during the week and mentor them at the races. It’s not just ‘here’s your bike and parts, and we’ll see you later’ – we interact with the riders and families. It ensures they’re doing the right thing, spending their money wisely and still enjoying racing. It’s a bit more hands-on compared to programs from other manufacturers, and it’s a bit more family orientated – you can see everyone here is hanging out together, and it’s quite a good atmosphere. That’s what we do with YJR, then there’s a dealer-level of support – we have a range of active dealers in which we support riders through. Queensland and New South Wales have a few – there’s plenty of them out there. In terms of level of support from Yamaha, it would be far more advanced than other manufacturers.

Why does Yamaha have such a strong presence at the AJMX and what’s the importance of it?

Yamaha is a racing company – we love going racing. We want to go racing and we want to represent the brand as best we can. We have our a step-up program in place with the range, which can take you from a YZ65 all the way through to a CDR Yamaha YZ450F. To compliment that, we need teams and infrastructure in place to enable us to do that. From that point of view, we have a significant investment in junior racing, because without the junior racing and junior riders, we have no future sport.

Image: Foremost Media.

Between the YJR riders and Yamaha dealer supported riders, how many kids are you helping out this week?

I think there are around 50-odd riders who are here – what you see here is available to any Yamaha rider – they’re welcome to sit in the bLU cRU truck and have some food and some drinks. They’re welcome to come over to the WBR truck and use the mechanical skills we have with Travis and Darren. If they’re a Yamaha rider, they’re all included. We brought them all together on the first morning here and explained how it runs and how it rolls, so hopefully it’s well-received by the Yamaha riders because it’s a big effort from everyone at Yamaha to do it. We enjoy it, and it’s part of what we do.

The week so far for you guys has been pretty good with some race wins and podiums…

It’s a tough week on the riders and the families – we’re on day five of riding and it’s a long grind – nothing is done until it’s done. You look at Alex Larwood – he’s been dominating the entire week and had a bit of bad luck yesterday. Anything can happen, but success wise, we’re doing pretty well. We’re well represented in every class, and it’s probably the most we’ve been represented at a junior nationals because of the YZ65 involvement, a great YZ250F, our YZ125 has always been successful and we have an updated YZ85. Our product range is good, our riders are good and our team infrastructure is good, so our results follow that.

The YZ65 was released mid-way through 2018, now that it’s been on the market for over 12 months, have you noticed a stronger Yamaha presence in the 65cc category?

I guess the timing of the bike being released mid-season last year was always going to be difficult as far as a racing season goes, so last year we had an opportunity to showcase the bike and show what it can do – now the regular guy can go ride one and be part of it. If you look at the numbers, it was purely a KTM dominance two years ago, and I haven’t looked at the percentage figures, but there’s certainly a good percentage of Yamaha’s out there in the 65cc class now – both by the guys that race for the team, but also by the regular guys. It’s good to see that representation – you can watch kids young, see what they do, and they can be part of what we do here.