Sepang, Malaysia

Yamaha Press Conference Transcript: Data Sharing Stopped, Indonesian Sponsor Added

One of the most heavily-attended press conferences at Sepang was the Yamaha affair, at which Yamaha's MotoGP group leader Masahiko Nakajima, Racing MD Lin Jarvis, team bosses Davide Brivio and Wilco Zeelenberg and the two stars of the show, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo faced questions from the assembled press. The subjects covered a lot of ground, from Wilco Zeelenberg's first day on the job, to Yamaha Indonesia's stepping up with sponsorship, to whether post-race burnouts are things of the past. But more pressing subjects were also covered, such as the end to data sharing between Valentino Rossi's and Jorge Lorenzo's sides of the garage, whether Yamaha thinks they can retain both their riders, and the two riders' impressions of the new YZR M1.

All these and more are covered in the transcript of the press conference, which follows below, thanks to our friends over at Superbikeplanet.com

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Fiat Yamaha Bike Launch - Photos And Videos

Launching a MotoGP race bike is a tricky prospect. The aim is for it to be as glamorous as possible, but without being too expensive for journalists to cover. Ducati solve this problem by launching at a giant event done together with Ferrari in the Italian Alps, but Yamaha have decided to make use of the opportunity presented by the first official MotoGP test of the year, out in Sepang. The location was especially appropriate this year, as Yamaha Indonesia has stepped up into a sponsor role, capitalizing on the growing interest in the sport in that part of Asia. According to Google Trends, Indonesia provides the largest number of users searching for the term "motogp", outnumbering Italy by nearly 4 to 1.

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Sepang 1 Test, Day 1 Times, Rossi Leads Stoner

The rain that threatened to ruin the first day of testing for 2010 luckily decided to stay away, but the session was still disrupted by the weather. Instead of water, it was the oppressive 40°C tropical heat that sapped the strength of the riders, limiting the amount of testing the riders could do. The rain finally came just before 5pm to cool the track from the scorching 50° Centigrade it was at most of the day, though only adding to the humidity.

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MotoGP About To Resume At Sepang

MotoGP makes a long-awaited return to action on Thursday, with the 17 official entries all taking to the track at Sepang. For the veterans, it marks the first time they will have ridden a MotoGP bike in nearly three months, their last outing being at the Valencia post-race tests in November last year. Even the rookies, who got extra tests at the end of 2009, have not been been on track since late December, with Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama the most recent to test here at Sepang before Christmas.

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Aoyama Wraps Up Sepang Test Very Close To Lap Record

Hiroshi Aoyama and Marco Simoncelli finished the final day of testing at Sepang on Wednesday, bringing the cycle of extra MotoGP rookie tests to an end. Once again, it was Hiroshi Aoyama who was fastest of the rooking pairing, beating Marco Simonelli's time by a significant margin. Aoyama's fastest lap stopped the clocks at 2'02.3, just two tenths of a second off Casey Stoner's race lap record of 2'02.108 set in 2008, while Simoncelli set a fastest time of 2'03.2, according to Crash.net.

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Aoyama Quickest On Second Day Of Sepang Rookie Test

The rain continues to dog the last of the rookie tests, another downpour at Sepang disrupting practice for Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama as they acclimatize to their Honda RC212Vs. Fortunately, the rain paid only a brief visit in the afternoon, allowing Simoncelli to rack up 44 laps and Aoyama to accumulate 43 laps of the Malaysian circuit.

Both men improved their times, but as yesterday, it was Hiroshi Aoyama who was the quickest of the pairing. Aoyama's 2'03.25 on the Interwetten Honda was nearly half a second better than Simoncelli's time of 2'03.70 aboard the factory-spec San Carlo Gresini Honda, but both men were still some way off both Casey Stoner's lap record of 2'02.108 and Valentino Rossi's pole record of 2'00.518.

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Rain Delays First Day Of Final Rookie Test

Though the bumper crop of rookies due to enter MotoGP next season were given an extra session of testing, the last two to make use of that opportunity got off to a very damp start. Marco Simoncelli and reigning 250cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama arrived at Sepang to be greeted by a torrential downpour, delaying the start of the first day of testing until around noon local time.

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Furusawa: "Valentino Is A Very Special Rider For Yamaha"

After winning his 7th MotoGP World Championship, his 9th world title in total, and his 4th for Yamaha, Yamaha's bosses were naturally effusive in their praise for Valentino Rossi. At a press conference after the race, which featured Yamaha Racing's Managing Director Lin Jarvis alongside Yamaha's MotoGP project leader Masao Furusawa, the pair heaped praise on the Italian. "Bringing Valentino over to Yamaha has been the best thing we've ever done perhaps in Yamaha's racing history," Jarvis told reporters. "It was a great decision and together we make a great team."

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Extra Test Sessions For MotoGP Rookies Possible

The 2010 MotoGP season is set to be a bumper year for rookies, with a grand total of 6 newcomers entering the class. Hiroshi Aoyama, Hector Barbera, Alvaro Bautista, Aleix Espargaro and Marco Simoncelli are all moving up to MotoGP from the 250cc class, while Ben Spies is parachuting in from World Superbikes. The influx of new blood into the class - including some of the most eagerly-awaited names for a couple of years - should add an extra level of excitement to MotoGP, with the new riders rated very highly indeed.

But this influx of fresh talent also faces the biggest challenge ever to confront MotoGP rookies: The cost-cutting measures put in place at the beginning of the year including huge reductions in testing, cutting the number of test days by half. This leaves the 6 rookies entering the class facing a new season, on a new bike and new tires, with just 8 days of testing behind them.

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