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Poncharal: `Not one part of new M1 is the same as 2008 bike´

Poncharal: `Not one part of new M1 is the same as 2008 bike´

Tech 3 Yamaha boss Herve Poncharal is looking forward to seeing his riders test the new YZR-M1 at Sepang early in February.

Frenchman Herve Poncharal previews the 2009 campaign with, explaining the aims and objectives of the Tech 3 Yamaha satellite outfit this season, ahead of the second year of competition with Colin Edward and James Toseland representing his team…

Q. `Tell us about your pre-season testing schedule and whether you will be using the new 2009 YZR-M1 at the first test in Sepang.´
A. `Our team has just come back from Japan where we had what we call our `assembling schooling week´. Our team was there with the Fiat Yamaha crews learning how to assemble the new bike and they were all very impressed. The new bike looks like the 2008 one but there is almost not even one part which is the same. Everything we saw, although it was only static, is going in the right direction and we think this is what we need to be even better than in 2008.´

`So we have got the new M1 and we have just finished assembling the four bikes in Japan. They will be shipped to Malaysia now and our first winter test with the new model will be 5th-7th February in Sepang.´

Q. `What are your goals in the 2009 campaign?´
A. `The 2008 season was a really good one for us. We were fourth in the championship and the best independent team in the classification. We were in front of two factory teams, so this is something we are really proud of and I think for 2009 our target must be to try and achieve the same thing. That won´t be easy because I think everybody is working really hard and we expect strong challenges from the other independent teams.´

`From the riders´ perspective our aim is to have one of them in the top five. Colin almost did it last year. With the new mono-brand tyre rule and the fact that now James knows all the circuits both of them should be more competitive and closer to the front. We had a pole position and podiums in 2008 and pole position is a very difficult thing to do, but why not again? With no more `qualifiers´ like before maybe things will be more open. But especially with the podiums, we would like to see Colin up there again and we are dreaming of seeing James get his first MotoGP podium in the 2009 season.´

Q. `Do you expect to see an improvement in results this year?´
A. `We are always looking to get better and to improve. But before saying that we are going to improve, which looks a bit pretentious, I think we have to remember that at the moment everybody, every factory and every team, is working hard in his own place, to try to be competitive. Before we have the first test altogether to really judge how much each participant, factory, team and rider has been working through the winter and at which level we are, it is quite difficult to make predictions.´

`Of course I would like us to perform even better then we did in 2008. I think both Colin and James are working really hard on their physical conditions. Yamaha, I know from what we saw last week when we were assembling the new bikes, have been working very hard and they are still working hard. But the opposition will be doing the same too, so let´s wait a little bit before we make any real predictions.´

Q. `Do you see 2009 as a make or break year for both Colin and James, given their respective ages, their current contracts and the competitiveness they face in MotoGP?´
A. `Nothing goes on forever in life, especially in sport and in MotoGP. Both James and Colin are now on one year contracts. Colin was due to leave MotoGP at the end of 2008 but because of the great season he had he managed to get one more year and maybe he is going to be even better in 2009 and will therefore still be with us in 2010. That is what I hope. James has been discovering MotoGP and has had to overcome a lot of problems, learning new tracks, getting used to a new bike and a new format of racing. He did really well when you have all that in mind. But clearly both of them are under a lot of pressure to perform, like we are and like everybody is in MotoGP.´

`We are expecting from Colin that he will continue at the level he is and maybe be even better. We are expecting a major improvement from James and I think he is capable of it. It is difficult to reach the top and both of them are at the top level in their sport, but sometimes it is even more difficult to remain there. They know the game and it is a tough environment, but this is the life, you want to be there and you have to prove that you are worth being there. I am quite sure James is going to have an incredibly exciting 2009 season. I have been talking to him recently and he is working a lot on his physical condition, he is highly motivated. So I can´t see why we won´t get the results we are looking for, but of course we also know that there are some young riders knocking at the MotoGP door and our riders know that too. Our riders understand that we need to get podiums.´

Q. `Do you think we will see satellite riders winning races in 2009?´
A. `I think everybody wants to see more and more competitive racing and the new tyre regulation is going to help the racing to be closer for sure. We saw that through 2008 season the tyre factor created some breaks (gaps) in some races and took away the chances of some riders in some races. Everybody will now be on the same specification and the same quantity. We were testing that in Jerez in November and all of us, every rider, team manager and crew chief that I spoke to, were happy, even the ones who had previously been negative about the rule change.´

`So I think this is going to help us to be more competitive and I think if you look at all the riders on the grid everybody is very, very strong. We (Tech 3 Yamaha) should be in a position where if we improve a bit from last year, when we had a lot of front row starts and we had podiums, then why not? James and Colin have the dream, the absolute target to try and win a race, so let´s hope that an independent team is going to win a race and let´s hope it is going to be us. This is not completely unrealistic, sure it will be tough as the factories have the best means, the best riders, but it has happened before and hopefully it will happen again in 2009.´

MotoGP, 2008, Tech 3 Yamaha

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