Interviews 1 Aug 2017

Industry Insight: Yamaha Motor Australia’s Sean Goldhawk

Yamaha communications manager on the exciting new 2017 YZF-R6.

Yamaha Motor Australia launched its updated 2017 model YZF-R6 to the media today at Sydney Motorsport Park, where a selection of personnel were granted the opportunity to test the supersport machine. tracked the company’s communications manager Sean Goldhawk to discuss the exciting new model.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

We’re at the launch for the 2017 Yamaha R6 here at Sydney Motorsport Park. What are your thoughts on what is another exciting bike to be launched by Yamaha?

Yeah, it’s something we really aim to invigorate the market with. Because the supersport market is slightly shrinking at the moment, our aim is to rebuild that, using the bike to attract new customers to the 600cc segment.

As far as the bike goes, it’s obviously styled like the really popular R1, but it’s also got some trick new features in it’s own right. What are some that standout for you?

It isn’t just styled like the R1, it actually has some parts from the R1 incorporated within the bike. It’s got R1 forks now, previously it had 41mm and they’ve gone up to 43mm, and it has the fully-adjustable KYB front suspension and rear shock – that’s straight off the R1. It looks like its big brother, but it’s very different to ride. It’s a really good entry-level track bike and it just gives you that top-end thrill – you know, that old two-stroke [feeling] where the all power comes up to the top and it also has electronics that improve the experience. It’s perfect for riding around Sydney Motorsport Park.

In terms of Yamaha’s ‘We R Family’ line-up – the R series of bikes – tell us about the unique concept of having the step-up sportsbike range…

Well, we’re probably the only brand that can boast an entire range, starting from the R15 – the 150cc – and then they have the option to choose the R3, which is a 300cc, and of course we run race series for both of those classes with the GP Juniors and R3 Cup. From there they could enter the 600cc level with this new bike and then step up to the R1. Overarching all that bLU cRU step-up philosophy, of course we’ve got the daddy drawing everyone through, and that’s Valentino Rossi – no other brand can boast that sort of level of an aspirational leader.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

With the sportbike market, Yamaha obviously has its MotoGP teams with all their success, but here locally, Yamaha Motor Australia is really proactive in running a factory race team with the Superbikes and then also YRD support program, featuring all kinds of levels of support for R6 riders and so on.

That’s right and it’s not just R6 riders, it’s everyone from R3 all the way up. They do extend a lot of support to the racing community and our aim is just to get more bums on seats out there – we really want to build that community. It helps us in a marketing sense, because we sell a lot of motorcycles to track day enthusiasts and racers as well.

And finally, the media and a couple of race team guys are here today on the 2017 R6. It seems to be a a positive response so far!

I haven’t heard any negativity, but they don’t often tell us though – they just go and write about it without mentioning anything [laughs]. But, so far, so good. I’ve heard some really positive comments from riders of the calibre of Steve Martin and Cameron Donald – they’ve both ridden R6s to a high level – you know, World Supersport level in the case of Steve Martin, and he’s really positive about the new bike, so that’s definitely a good start.