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Gauloises Yamaha set for title defence

Gauloises Yamaha set for title defence

Gauloises Yamaha set for title defence

The Gauloises Yamaha Team returns to the Jerez circuit in Spain this week to begin its defence of the MotoGP World Championship title after an intense winter of tests, which concluded at the Spanish circuit just eight days ago. In the year of Yamaha's 50th anniversary, current World Champion Valentino Rossi and his new team-mate Colin Edwards will be challenging for victory on the new, improved version of the impressive YZR-M1 machine, that swept to the title in Rossi's prodigious hands in 2004.

It's been a busy winter for the Italian, which began with an historic journey to Yamaha's head office in Iwata, Japan, to receive the certificate of ownership for his title-winning YZR-M1. The bike was given to Rossi as a personal ‘thank you' from the company's president, Mr Toru Hasegawa, last November.

Since then Yamaha's engineers and Rossi have worked extensively on the 2005 version of the machine at in-depth test sessions in Malaysia, Australia and Spain, where he has been joined by his new Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Edwards.

The new pairing have a similar riding style and, having previously worked closely together at the Suzuka 8 Hour Endurance race, have forged a close relationship that has helped accelerate development of the 2005 version YZR-M1.

The 990cc, 220+hp machine is a far cry from Yamaha Motor Company's first race motorcycle, the 5hp YA-1, which enjoyed a winning debut at the Mount Fuji Ascent Race in 1955. That historic victory made the YA-1 officially the fastest motorcycle in Japan and the philosophy behind its creation is what has driven Yamaha to building the championship-winning motorcycle.

Fifty years ago, Yamaha's then-President Genichi Kawakami challenged his team to "achieve the greatest possible results within the given conditions by making thorough preparations, checking operations for completeness and practising in actual race conditions". Rossi and Edwards worked precisely to that end during three days of official tests at Jerez last week and are now itching to reap the fruits of their labour in this weekend's opening Grand Prix.

"After a long winter, during which we've done a lot of testing, it's really good to be finally going racing," commented team director Davide Brivio. "We're very interested to see the level of our bike against all the others; during testing everybody has been very aggressive but also everybody tends to try to hide some things about their bikes!"

"We want to see where we really are against the others and this is the first real chance. We're feeling a little bit different to this time last year; this time everyone is looking at us and expecting us to be in front. Despite this added pressure we're really excited about it!"

"With Valentino and Colin we've had some ups and downs throughout the winter, but it's generally been positive and we've concluded testing on a good note," added the Italian. "Valentino was not bad during the Barcelona test and he set some good times in Jerez last week. There are still a few problems to solve on the new bike, but nothing big and I'm confident that we're ready for the first race. I am sure that the mechanics and engineers will be able to fix these things during the two days of practice before the race."

"Colin has spent the winter working hard to adapt to a new bike and a new team. We were pleased with his progress at the Jerez test and now we're looking forward to seeing how he does at the first race. I think he has a good chance to stay in the top group; this is our target for the first race. I hope that we can see both our riders on the podium together often during this season; this is our dream!"


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