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Ex-World Champion Criville on his first outing with the Yamaha

Ex-World Champion Criville on his first outing with the Yamaha

After a disappointing 2001 and an uncertain winter, Alex Criville finally made his debut for Yamaha in Almeria this past weekend. It was a much awaited moment, with the Catalan having spent ten years in the Honda ranks, the last eight as one of their official riders, and of course winning the World 500cc Championship with the Japanese factory in 1999. New Year, new bike, and new team...

Alex Criville: Promises are never eternal. I had a good relationship with Honda, although in the end, it was not everything we wanted. Now a new stage is beginning and I´m going into it very excited, keen to forget the poor results and even worse emotions that I have suffered over the last two years.

mgp: After having been the official rider for a manufacturer for so long, was it hard to accept an offer from a private team.?

A.C: The feeling I have at this moment in time is that this team is hardly private. The Yamaha engineers are here, the Michelin people too. The truth is that I don´t see that great a difference in regards to Honda.

mgp: Do you think you can win the MotoGP World Championship on a two-stroke?

A.C: Of course. The four-strokes could have teething problems and when the competition is so finely balanced, you pay a big price for any small error. The main string to our bow is reliability, and the knowledge that Yamaha will support us in case the four-strokes fail.

mgp: What have you set as your main objective?

A.C: To get back to enjoying myself on the motorcycle. Ever since I was World Champion in 1999, I have rarely felt comfortable on the bike. At times it was me, and at times it was the bike, whatever, the results just didn´t come and this made an impression on my morale. If I manage to get on the bike and enjoy myself going quickly, then I am convinced that I can regularly be at the front.

mgp: And what about the bike?

A.C: We mustn´t forget that this is a bike which was runner-up last year. Rossi was much superior to everyone else, but Biaggi won races with the Yamaha YZR500 and he was fighting for the title right until the end. There will undoubtedly be a process of adapting myself; all I ask is that I don´t have any bad luck.

mgp: With just five laps, have you been able to discover any strong points of the YZR500?

A.C: It has a very good engine, and the chassis allows a better corner line that the Honda. On the other side of the coin you´d mention the rigidity of the chassis under braking. As with all bikes, it has its strengths and its weaknesses; now it is a question of reducing the latter and taking advantage of the former.

mgp: Will you be fighting for the title come the end of the season?

A.C: I hope so, but I will not get obsessed with this. First I need to enjoy being on the bike again and show that I can be the rider I was in 1999.

500cc, 2001

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