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The men behind Yamaha's success – Part 3

The men behind Yamaha's success – Part 3

The men behind Yamaha's success – Part 3

Throughout the race weekend, the team's centre of operations is the Hospitality unit, run this year by another Yamaha new recruit, Italian Massimiliano Montanari– known as Max to all. His role this year was much more than that, however, as he explains.

"I am in charge of the hospitality operations for Yamaha, I followed Valentino. I have followed him for six years, from Aprilia to Honda and now to Yamaha this year. I stay behind him for everything, supporting him over the weekend."

With so many different countries palates to sate, given the multinational nature of the team, Max's new culinary experience could have been a nightmare but, although it is undoubtedly a long slog on race weekends, the job is somewhat simplified by the universal popularity of Italian food – and some free beer. "We have a lot of different nationalities in the team now but they all largely eat the same things, so that side of things is not so complicated," says Max. "I think the Italian food is the best and all the others seem to like it. Also we have the Aussie guys in the team and the most important thing for them is the Nastro Azzurro beer! I think they must have it in their contract to have beer on tap after the sessions and races or else they don't come to the race!"

Arguably the most popular – and unexpected – integral part of this whole hospitality chain of human sustenance in 2004 was Angelo, the ice-cream man. Come rain or shine, at all times of day during European races, there was a manned ice cream dispensing machine in the Yamaha hospitality, with the uniformed Angelo standing by to dish out his superior home-made ice cream.

After practice sessions on particularly hot days this year he could even be found in the pit garage, a tray full of freshly made ice creams being handed out to the team members during their post session debriefs. A dedicated MotoGP ice cream operative is a peculiar enough sight in the paddock, but watching animated discussions on the nuances of critical chassis setup between key team members, each with a dripping spoon of vanilla and mocha in one hand and top secret computer read-outs in the other, verges on the bizarre.

As well as the on-track performance of the team, there is also the business of promoting all the team's successes via column inches and TV exposure, and another long-term Yamaha Factory Team collaborator, Alison Forth, heads that effort. Ali has arguably the best vantage point to describe how the GFYT members mesh together, having to deal with all of them at some point over each weekend.

This year, the PR role in the team has changed significantly. "The workload has greatly increased; the interest in the team, not just Rossi but the team as a whole, is massive," affirms Ali. "We are in the media spotlight and this has to be dealt with. Access time to Rossi however, who everyone wants to get their hands on, is limited, so it's impossible for us to fulfil all media requests."

"Last year (2003) we only needed one person full-time for the PR area, but this year (2004) there were two of us. We deal not just with the PR for Rossi but last year for Checa also, as well as other key team members in the media spotlight. We answer media requests during and away from race weekends, plan the schedules for the riders and the team during the race weekends for press conferences, photography, filming and interviews, and also liaise with the team sponsors over their involvement with the team. We liaise with Yamaha markets worldwide, we run the team's media website, organise hospitality and guest programmes during race weekends, organise signing sessions, etc. It's a lot!"

It is a lot, and, after the wholly successful first season for Valentino Rossi and Yamaha, and the arrival of Colin Edwards to the team in 2005, the job can only get more intense.

MotoGP, 2005

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