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Having finished their visit to Manila, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales quickly hit the road again for the next stop on their mini-Asia tour, and the teammates traveled to Buriram to greet their Thai fans at the Yamaha Motorsports Media Conference 2018, where Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. presented its complete 2018 Yamaha Factory Racing rider line-up.
Rossi is Yamaha‘s most successful rider and enters a sixth consecutive year with Yamaha Factory Racing since his return to the manufacturer in 2013. Moreover, 2018 will be his 13th season with the team since he first joined Yamaha in 2004. Viñales made waves on his first year with the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team. He joined the Factory Yamaha crew in 2017, after gaining two years of experience in the premier class. He showed his great potential, securing Yamaha its 500th Grand Prix victory, as well as third place in the overall rider standings.
After a brief speech by Yamaha Motor Racing President and General Manager of Motorsports Development Division, Kouichi Tsuji, Rossi spoke, amongst other things, about his passion for helping young talent from all over the world with his Yamaha VR46 Master Camp project, while Viñales talked about his first impressions of the Chang International Circuit and his plans to secure the MotoGP™ Championship World Title.
The pair shared the stage with Yamaha Motor Racing Marketing Director, Lin Jarvis, who touched on the preperations for the upcoming racing season, as well as Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Johann Zarco, who shared his secrets on winning the MotoGP‘s 2017 ’Rookie of the Year‘ Title.
The media conference was also attended by Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK riders Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, who partnered up with seven-time All Japan JSB1000 Champion and Official Yamaha MotoGP™ test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga last year to secure Yamaha a third consecutive victory at the 40th edition of the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race.
“It was a short presentation but it was nice,” says Rossi of the event. “It's always a pleasure to see the fans' and the media‘s interest. It was also great to catch up with the other Yamaha riders and some of the graduated Yamaha VR46 Master Camp students, so today was a good way to get ready before the Buriram test. We will get to try the Chang circuit for three days, and this will be a very interesting test for us, so I'm ready to go to work. This part of the season is always important to understand which direction we should work in to be competitive from the very first race. The feeling of the bike was positive at the Sepang test and I felt good. We still have some work to do, but we're quite optimistic.”
“The media conference event was really good and a positive way for us to start the Thailand test,” adds Viñales. “This will be my second year with the Yamaha Factory Team, and there are two more to come after this, so I feel very much a part of the 'Yamaha Family'. I enjoyed the event a lot, but now it's time to get back to work. I already had a look around the Chang circuit and my first impression was very postitive, I didn't expect it to be this kind of track - I like it a lot and I also think it will be very nice for the Thai fans to come and watch, so it's a pleasure to be here. We aim to be consistent all year, we have a good bike and a good team and look forward to getting a lot of work done in the next few days.”
Besides the international Yamaha Factory Racing teams, the local Yamaha racers, participating in the All Japan Road Race Championship and Asia Road Racing Championship, were also presented on the stage, giving a complete overview of Yamaha's global motorsports efforts.
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