2006 Yamaha YFZ 450
Is there such a thing as ""readier to race?""
Yamaha, Honda, Polaris, and Suzuki have all obviously spent many long days and nights to design their latest sport quads. The YFZ450, TRX-450, Outlaw, and LT-R450 are all really great bases for race quads, but Yamaha has had the most time to perfect their model. Slight changes were made to the '05 model, but the major changes happened in 2006. But I’m not writing to tell you about the changes again. You can look in previous months of our articles for that. I’m writing about what the 06’ Yamaha is capable of after those changes.
With the availability of sport quads that are close to race-ready from the showroom floor, one class that has begun to be very popular at all types of races is the stock class. Someone can enter the stock class after a few simple and reasonably cheap modifications. The stock class in WORCS, for example, allows for the wheels and tires, handlebars, and throttle to be changed, and nerf bars and a kill switch are strongly recommended. These simple changes allow for closer competition and pit the quads and their riders against each other more closely than the Open and Production classes, which depend partly upon who has spent the most money on the highest quality parts. Along with the promise of closer competition, WORCS is promising a brand new quad to the winner of the Stock A championship.
Before the release of the new 2006 Suzuki 450, the riders in the Stock A class were aboard quite a few Hondas, a few less Yamahas, and one lone Polaris Outlaw. The first two rounds of the series were surprisingly dominated by the rider on the Outlaw. Jeff Bertuzzi, factory rider for Polaris, was finishing minutes ahead of the rest of the competition. When I entered the Stock A class for the third round aboard my '06 Yamaha YFZ450, the field was somewhat similar except for a few entries aboard the brand new Suzuki. Everyone was excited to see how the Suzuki would compare to the Outlaw that had been dominating.
I was confident the YFZ was more than capable of running in front of the Outlaw, and I was able to show that from early on in the race. When the flag was raised into the air I jumped out front and grabbed the holeshot. Looming ahead was an hour of grueling whoops and one of the most demanding races we would compete at all season long. After getting stuck in traffic early in the race, both Bertuzzi and I were buried back in the pack. With two laps left my YFZ had still kept me out in front of Bertuzzi. Aboard the YFZ I was able to push my suspension harder through the whoops and gain precious seconds in order to gain the class win.
Pitted against a hoard of Hondas, the very-anticipated Suzuki, and the independent rear suspension Polaris, the Yamaha was still able to come out on top. It seems to me that with all the new choices on the market, Yamaha’s market share on the track is shrinking, though their sales figures do say differently. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if when all the “new” wears off, that the number of podiums the YFZ captures wins back a lot of buyers. I’ve proved in both the Stock A class, and also the Open A and Pro-AM classes, that the Yamaha is still a force to be reckoned with.