The first domino has fallen in the 2018 Silly Season (or perhaps Silly Preseason). Maverick Viñales announced during the presentation of the Movistar Yamaha team in Madrid that he has signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha. At the launch, he said he felt very happy inside the team, and felt they shared his objectives.
"I will be two more years in Yamaha," Viñales told the presenters, Izaskun Ruiz and Dylan Gray. "I'm very happy. I feel really good in the team, I feel the competitiveness, and especially I felt the desire to win. It's something I like, it's something I want, and we arrived at a really good compromise, and for both, it's been really special and good. So thanks to Yamaha, because as always, they made my dreams come true. Let's see if this year we can do another one."
Viñales said he felt part of the family at Yamaha. "You share the objectives, you share the passion, all the competition, so for me it's like being in a family that shares the same feelings that I have, so it's really important. And then I have a really good feeling inside Yamaha, with all the staff, all the people, all the bosses. So I feel great here. As I said, it's also a pleasure to be fast and trying to be on the maximum level, and trying to achieve the objective we couldn't do last year. "
Viñales is the first factory rider to announce he has signed a contract, though at the Ducati launch last week, the Ducati bosses announced they hoped to sign both their riders before the start of the season. Last time around, Yamaha sent out contract offers to both of its riders at the same time. Valentino Rossi has consistently said he wants to wait until the first few races are complete before making a decision about his future, and as a consequence, he had no announcement to make at the launch in Madrid.
The press release from Yamaha appears below:
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is delighted to announce that it has extended its Rider Agreement with Maverick Viñales by another two years.
MADRID (SPAIN), 24TH JANUARY 2018
It is with great pleasure that Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. announce the re-signing of Maverick Viñales with the Yamaha Factory Racing Team for two further years. The news was made official today, during the 2018 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team presentation, held in Casa Del Lector, Matadero (Madrid, Spain).
Viñales finished his first year with Movistar Yamaha MotoGP in third place in the MotoGP Championship standings. With three brilliant race wins and a total of seven strong podium finishes in 2017, Yamaha is confident in their partnership with the 23-year-old Spaniard and looks forward to being a serious title contender in 2018 and the following two seasons.
MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING
I’m very happy we have reached an agreement for Maverick to continue as a factory rider for Yamaha. The announcement that he will be staying with the team for two further years after 2018 is a fantastic way to start the new season: it shows clear commitment by both parties and affirms a reciprocal confidence that together we can achieve our mutual goal of becoming MotoGP World Champions.
Maverick has been a real asset to the team as soon as he came in. He’s full of motivation and never loses sight of his goals. The 2017 season wasn’t easy, yet he has already delivered Yamaha three race wins and secured the manufacturer its 500th Grand Prix win in his first year with us. Furthermore, he took third in the championship standings after switching manufacturers, which is also an impressive achievement.
Maverick is still very young, so we see a great future for him in Grand Prix racing, and we are very excited to challenge alongside with him during the upcoming three seasons of MotoGP.
MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
I’m really happy that Yamaha and I have extended our contract by two more years. It’s great for me and the team that we were able to make this announcement this early on, because it gives us a sense of calm: we know that I will continue riding my M1 for the coming three seasons, so now we can just focus on the actual racing. I’m very satisfied with this decision. I have a lot of belief in the team and in Yamaha and I’m happy that they feel the same way. I want to thank Yamaha for their vote of confidence, and also the fans, who are always supporting us. We will continue to work hard. We will be pushing to the maximum at all the Grands Prix and I look forward to three more incredible seasons together!