When we first saw Yamaha’s R1DT, we were extremely curious to know more about the machine. The bodywork of the car isn’t overly complicated and looks great, but we knew that things were a lot more complicated beneath all of that. Lucky for us, when we arrived at the press event at the Museum of American Speed, the guys at Yamaha let us get up close and personal, and provided a ton of great information on the car.
After a brief tour of the vast collection, we were given a presentation on the project. From what we learned, there is no set date or price currently, but Yamaha’s goal is to bring the concept car into production as a budget-friendly, low-maintenance, turnkey car with parts and financing similar to Yamaha’s other products.
Still, there were a few things we still wanted to know about the R1DT. For that, we spoke with Dave Park, Project Manager for the R1DT, to get the answers we were looking for. Park has been at the forefront of the R1DT from the beginning, and he had plenty of information and insight into the vision that the whole R1DT team has for the future of the car.
Where did the idea begin for Yamaha to build this dirt track car?
It actually has a pretty deep story behind it. Yamaha periodically gets together all of our product planning guys, from the ATV’s to motorcycle product planning guys, and even some of the golf cart guys. They all sit down in a group and start spitballing ideas for what we should produce next. Do we make an engine that we can put in something else? That’s where this project started. It was a brainstorm session. The idea was that when we look at side-by-sides and motorcycles, there’s always a problem with trying to find a place to ride. With dirt tracks, they’re everywhere. There’s always a place to drive them, and we don’t sell anything for that market. That’s where the idea for the project started.
Many saw this car as a modified YXZ1000, but you mentioned that it really doesn’t share anything in common at all. Talk to me a little bit about coming up with the car and designing it around the R1 motor.
In the dirt track world, motorcycle powered cars already exist and there are 600 cc and 1000 cc cars. There’s even some 1300 cc motors and stuff like that. Originally, when we started the car, we weren’t sure how much horsepower we needed. We started with this R1, which is the car that we put in the museum, and we actually started with a Superbike-spec motor. There was a lot of horsepower there and if we needed less, it was easy to tune. We brought in the electronics guy from our race team and tried different power levels. We found that the R1 motor is the best combination of weight and power, so it started there.
A big feature of this car is the tunability and adjustability, as well as data acquisition. Whether it’s this car or the 2018 YZ450F, Yamaha seems to be incorporating a lot of that technology into their new products. Tell me more about some of those features.
Well, the reason we have it in the cars is that the R1 itself has a lot of tuning. The R1 motorcycle has a module that you can buy for data acquisition, and all we did was take it and plug it in. With a little modification, we were able to adapt that to the car. We would’ve have put data acquisition on it anyways, but it made it easy because the motor and ECU already had that. It was very easy to do. Being able to adjust throttle maps and engine braking was on the bike so it was a natural fit to run different mapping on the car.
For motocross fans, especially those who haven’t been involved in this kind of racing at all, what would be the appeal to get into dirt track?
When we did our research we found that there was a lot of crossover. A lot of guys who used to race motorcycles are moving into cars. We all know that motocross is pretty tough on the body and those of us lucky enough to be older and still able to do it, that’s great. At the end of the day, sometimes you’re not physically able to ride a bike like you used to, but you still have the itch to get out and race and be competitive. This an opportunity for someone to do that without spending a ton of money on a car. From a safety standpoint, this car is very safe with the full roll cage, the fire suppression, and all of that.
Is there potential for this R1DT car to be used in other forms of racing beyond dirt track?
At this point, the scope of this project is dirt oval tracks. I think that once we establish what we have here, asphalt may be an option down the road. The car isn’t designed to do any jumping, that’s really in the YXZ’s wheelhouse.
Right now, the goal from Yamaha is to bring this car into production. What are some of the unique features that Yamaha brings to the dirt track with a production car?
Retail financing is a big one. To buy a new dirt track car, even a motorcycle powered one, takes a lot of money. It’s north of $15,000 usually. Not a lot of racers have money to spend outright like that, so I think retail financing is definitely a big deal in the market. There’s also a lot of features in the cars that add some benefits. Low-cost maintenance is one of our goals.
Obviously, there’s no set date on if or when we’ll see the car in production, but is there any rough idea of when it could happen?
I’d love to see it happen as soon as possible, but there’s a lot that has to happen and a lot of infrastructures that need to be put in place. We need to figure out how we’re going to handle the spares. We also have to figure out crash repair because when you crash your YZ, you probably aren’t going to bend a frame where there’s a lot of potential for that here. We need to figure out who’s going to repair those frames and weld a new clip onto it. Those infrastructures need to be figured out. We also need to figure out who we’ll sell the cars through and where we’ll manufacture it. The manufacturing can happen in Japan or it can happen here in the United States. There’s a lot of that stuff that needs to be figured out before we can set a date. The goal right now is as soon as possible.
YAMAHA R1DT Specifications
Engine: Engine Type | 998cc Liquid-cooled inline 4 cylinder, DOHC; 16 valves Bore x Stroke | 79.0mm x 50.9mm Compression Ratio | 13.0:1 Fuel Delivery | Fuel Injection with YCC-T and YCC-I Ignition | TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition Transmission | 6-speed w/ multiplate slipper clutch
Final Drive | Chain
Chassis: Suspension / Front | Unequal length a-arm suspension adjustable for camber and caster gain rate. Fox 2.0 threaded body adjustable coil over shock. Front suspension stroke is 6.0 in. Suspension / Rear | Unequal length a-arm suspension adjustable for camber and caster gain rate. Fox 2.0 threaded body adjustable shocks. 6.0 in. suspension stroke .875 dia adjustable sway bar Brakes / Front | Wilwood billet 2 piston calipers on a 10.0 in rotors adjustable for front to rear bias Brakes / Rear | Single 4 piston Wilwood caliper center mounted on a 10.0 in. rotors adjustable for front to rear bias. Tire / Front Left | Hoosier 8/22.5 – 13 Tire / Front Right | Hoosier 8/23.0 – 13 Tire / Rear Left | Hoosier 76.0/10.0 – 13 or 78.0/10.0 – 13
Tire / Rear Right | Hoosier 80.0/10.0 – 13
Dimensions: L x W x H | 140.0 in x 73.0 in x 52.25 in Wheelbase | 81.0 in Fuel Capacity | 3.0 gal poly fuel cell w/ anti-slosh foam integrated pump fuel gauge and roll over valve
Wet Weight* | 1200 lb (Approx.)
*Wet weight includes the vehicle with all fluids, including oil, coolant, and a full tank of fuel Specifications subject to change without notice.This document contains many of Yamaha’s valuable trademarks. It may also contain trademarks belonging to other companies. Any references to other companies or their products are for identification purposes only, and are not intended to be an endorsement.