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The lowdown from Wilco Zeelenberg

The lowdown from Wilco Zeelenberg

Jorge Lorenzo’s Team Manager tells about his background, and what his targets with the Spanish rider are for their first season together in a video interview.

One of the new faces in the MotoGP paddock for the 2010 season will be Dutchman Wilco Zeelenberg, who takes control of Jorge Lorenzo’s side of the Fiat Yamaha team garage.

Zeelenberg has made the move from Yamaha’s supersport team where he won the 2009 world championship with British rider Cal Crutchlow, and is an experienced racer himself. A career which stretched from the late 80s to 1995 in the World Championship saw Zeelenberg compete in the 250cc class, taking 11 podiums and a win as he experienced almost 100 Grands Prix.

“It was of course a pity to leave supersport, but it’s a really big challenge to fight in the highest class of motorcycle racing in MotoGP. Jorge is a fantastic rider and I’m looking forward to this new season,” explained Zeelenberg. “It’s always been a pressure to get good results and to perform so I’ve been used to it since I was three years old, because that’s when I started riding myself! I don’t feel it as a pressure.”

On his return to the World Championship scene as a Team Manager, Zeelenberg added: “I left this paddock maybe 15 years ago and when I return to the GP paddock now I see many of the same faces in each pit box, a couple I actually know from the past. So it’s nice to come back.”

Moving onto his aims for the forthcoming season with Lorenzo, Zeelenberg said of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship runner-up: “He’s a very motivated and focused young kid and I think that’s one of his big advantages. We don’t have to motivate him, he is really eager to win. I think the first three or four races of the season will be very important – to perform well and not make mistakes. Valentino is a very experienced rider and he will take advantage of every mistake made by other riders. I think the young guys will push harder when they make a mistake, and at the fifth, sixth, seventh rounds they will push and maybe make even more mistakes. Jorge knows that he can beat anybody when everything is correct, but he should also understand that if not everything is perfect for that race he must be able to sit back and take a podium.”

He continued: “I think Jorge needs somebody who believes in him because there are of course two good riders in the one team. I think we need to focus on him and he has ten guys who are now really working for Jorge, and I think we should show him that. I think then he can perform as he is able to, and that will help him throughout the season. You have to perform well when it’s the right moment, and you have to make the right decision when everything is not 100%.”

Bringing a strong technical knowledge to Lorenzo’s set-up with his former experience on the bike, Zeelenberg gave his view on the 2010 version of the YZR-M1 prototype.

“The base bike is quite similar (to 2009) so we have an advantage with that I think. Each track we arrive at we can use our base set-up from last year. That means we can arrive at a track at which we won last year and start from a good base, and at a track where we had some problems we know what to adjust.”

Concluding, Zeelenberg stated his thoughts on the new rule restrictions with regards to the use of six engines across all 18 rounds of the 2010 World Championship.

“The six-engine rule is a big thing,” he added. “Everybody has really focused on that issue during the winter, so it’s a secret to say what happened! But of course that was the main priority for the factory to concentrate on.”

MotoGP, 2010, Jorge Lorenzo, Fiat Yamaha Team

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