Four years after showing a highly acclaimed concept bike, Yamaha has now launched the MT-07 DT, a competitive racing machine for the AFT, the American flat-track championship.
After years of Harley-Davidson dominance and monotony in the American flat-track championship, Indian’s entry into the scene in 2016 brought a lot of movement. With their FTR750, the newcomers also snatched the title away from Harley and have successfully defended it ever since.
Now Yamaha, another big brand, is about to join the AFT. And the Japanese can certainly look back on their own successful tradition in this extremely popular sport in the US. In the 1970s, the legendary Kenny Roberts started for the Japanese in the saddle of the inline win XS750. Unfortunately the XV750 project in the early 1980s with Mike Kidd and Jimmy Filice was less successful.
In 2015, Yamaha ventured back into the scene with a flat-track concept bike designed by Jeff Palhegyi. The engine of the successful MT-07 with its powerful characteristics seemed to be made for a flat track racer. Palhegyi put it into a tubular lattice frame and created a black-yellow design with speed block elements that clearly picked up on the Roberts era.
Four more years went by before Yamaha seriously attacked again with the MT-07 DT in the 2019 season. The initiative for the realization of the MT-07 DT racing machine goes back decisively to Keith McCarty, the race director of Yamaha USA. McCarty, who achieved fame as a motocrosser at a young age, found an enthusiastic comrade-in-arms in motorcycle product line manager Derek Brooks – also a former racer and flat-track enthusiast.
The Yamaha MT-07 DT has already completed two rounds of the AFT 2019. Jake Johnson is the hope bearing rider. While he finished third in the opening race at Daytona, he only finished 16th in the second race at Atlanta. In the overall standings he is currently in ninth position. But there are still 18 rounds to go, so Johnson still has every opportunity to help Yamaha regain flat-track fame.
While the US scene is already feverish as to whether there will be a road-legal version of the MT-07 DT, Yamaha Motor Corporation is keeping quiet. How it works to bring the spirit of flat-track sport from the track to the road was demonstrated by Indian with the FTR 1200.