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Naoki Matsudo gets Yamaha backing for 2004

Naoki Matsudo gets Yamaha backing for 2004

Naoki Matsudo gets Yamaha backing for 2004

Naoki Matsudo is without doubt one of the most consistent riders in the quarter-litre class. In spite of the factory forces of Honda and Aprilia, the Japanese rider has consolidated his fourth season in the championship with ninth place overall – equalling his best ever season from 2001. Front group battles at Le Mans, Catalunya and Rio did not go unnoticed by Yamaha, who have promised an updated version of the antiquated TZ for 2004.

"Halfway through August I began to make contact with several teams, including my current squad Yamaha Kurz, to ensure my continuity in the championship next season," explains Matsudo. "In Malaysia I spoke with officials from Yamaha and they confirmed their support. In Valencia we closed the deal with Yamaha Kurz and signed the contract this week. Factory support was the key to my decision to stay."

Having become used to living under a cloud of uncertainty at the end of recent seasons, Matsudo admitted it was a relief to have sorted his future ahead of the winter break. "Last year I sorted the deal just a couple of days before the first race. This time everything has been arranged quickly and I'm happy about that. This means we will be able to take part in the IRTA tests and other private winter tests, which we haven't been able to do in past seasons. Now I can concentrate on my physical training schedule in Japan."

Matsudo also expressed his optimism over the level of machinery he will have in 2004. "This year there was no support from the factory but they are already working on a new engine in Japan and Germany for next season. The new machine will also have a radical new look to the current TZ. I'm really looking forward to getting hold of it."

250cc, 2003

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