Now that both Ducati and Honda have held the launches of their MotoGP bikes, attention turns to Yamaha. The factory Yamaha team, with 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and 2010 Rookie of the Year Ben Spies, are due to be presented officially to the press on Monday, February 21st, the day before the second test is to be held at Sepang.
The big question, of course, is who Yamaha will unveil as their title sponsor. Fiat left Yamaha at the end of 2010, departing at the same time as Valentino Rossi, and rumors have been circulating since last summer about who will take Fiat's place. The two names linked most often to Yamaha's MotoGP team were Malaysian-based budget airline Air Asia, and Malaysian petroleum giant Petronas, but so far, the two Malaysian companies have seemed reluctant to step in and take on the role of title sponsor.
Paddock rumors persist that Yamaha will be launched without a title sponsor, with the bike dressed in the corporate Yamaha blue livery, something akin to the livery shown off at the first Sepang test. These rumors were further fueled today by the list of attendees at the M1 launch included in the press release: All of the people on the list are Yamaha employees, with no external names mentioned. Whether people not on that list will appear at the bike launch at the Sepang circuit remains to be seen.
Below is the press release issued by Yamaha Factory Racing:
11th February 2011
YAMAHA FACTORY RACING TO UNVEIL 2011 LIVERY IN MALAYSIA
Yamaha is pleased to announce that it will unveil the final livery of its 2011 YZR-M1 on 21st February at 6pm at Sepang, Malaysia, the day before the start of the MotoGP test session.
Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will ride at the test in this new livery.
For media who are present at the test in Malaysia, Yamaha will hold a press conference at the Sepang circuit on Monday 21st February at 6.00pm (Malaysian time).
The following persons will discuss the forthcoming new season:
- Jorge Lorenzo, YAMAHA FACTORY RACING rider
- Ben Spies, YAMAHA FACTORY RACING rider
- Masahiko Nakajima, General Manager Motorsports Development Division
- Kouichi Tsuji, MotoGP Group Leader & 2011 YZR-M1 Project Leader
- Shigeto Kitagawa, President of Yamaha Motor Racing
- Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing
- Maio Meregalli, Team Director
- Wilco Zeelenberg, Team Manager