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Hervé Poncharal : ´We´re not just here to make up the numbers´

Hervé Poncharal : ´We´re not just here to make up the numbers´

Hervé Poncharal : ´We´re not just here to make up the numbers´

The Grand Prix of France was obviously a very important race for our team. As well as being the only French team in the championship and having a French rider in Olivier Jacque, we were particularly well supported by our sponsors and the fans. Even if the points available there are the same as any other meeting, it's a race with a lot of sentimental, but also professional, value.

At Le Mans however it was clear that the Yamaha M1 prototype had made significant progress, and this led to an all 4-stroke front row. The weather we had there didn´t really favour us either, and the 4-strokes benefited from the performance advantage they enjoy. We have to accept the advantage they have over us, but since the beginning of the season we have been the quickest of the Yamaha 2-strokes in qualifying. I feel we´ve been unlucky so far this season, and when I learnt that Harada had crashed and taken out our two riders I couldn´t believe it, I was stunned. It was really frustrating and galling as Jacque and Nakano had been quicker than Abe, who finished fourth. I had thought that our riders would have finished between fifth and eighth to be honest.

Of course we'll head off to the next race in Mugello as optimistic as ever, however the Yamaha 4-strokes have been doing a lot of testing there so it´s only logical that we should be wary of their performance. However we´re hoping for more luck and success than we´ve so far enjoyed. Up to this stage we have only had one race where both our riders have finished, in Welkom. We must though concentrate on the future. The President of Gauloises, Mr Comolli will be attending the race in Italy, as well as one of the leading figures from Total Fina Elf. We also have a meeting scheduled with Mr Osumi, who is the manager of Yamaha, regarding plans for the 2003 season, but also the present time. At the moment we haven´t been given any assurances about getting a 4-stroke before the end of the season. Yamaha have to make a political choice, as they also depend on their partners, as well as a technical choice, so it isn't as easy as it seems. There are also the financial implications, as swapping from a 2-stroke to a 4-stroke mid-season would cost a lot of money.

We´d love to have some higher performance machines and be challenging for the top positions. Last year, Nakano qualified on the front row nine times before he injured himself in the Czech Republic. This year we´ve been regularly making the second row, however we´re not here just to make up the numbers, so we´re going to continue doing our best to try and change that´.

MotoGP, 2002

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