Yamaha MotoGP Press Release: Q&A With Jorge Lorenzo And Ben Spies

After the unveiling of their 2011 MotoGP livery, the men from Yamaha spoke to the media. Here's a press release containing a summary of Ben Spies' and Jorge Lorenzo's answers:


Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing rider:

1. Winning the MotoGP World Championship in 2010 was a fantastic achievement, how did you feel afterwards?

The MotoGP World Championship is the highest title a rider can get, to get it at 23yrs old makes me feel very proud of my team and of myself. We enjoyed some time over the winter break, I would have liked some more free time but I understand that when you become a champion you have responsibilities for your team! I did have time to take a holiday in Bali and relax, so we celebrated and now it's time to start again.

2. Does it feel different to start your racing season as the reigning world champion?

No, I try not to have so much pressure on myself. I always try to improve and work harder every year. If I am prepared things can be good, if I'm not then it's more difficult. Not everything depends on me, racing is difficult and success depends on many things so I try to make sure the rider is as perfect as can be.

3. This year is a very special racing year for Yamaha as it is the 50th Anniversary of MotoGP participation, what does this mean for you to be part of it?

When I first came to Yamaha it was a dream for me at 19 yrs old, the legend of Yamaha was very big. To be one champion in the history of Yamaha champions is good. I am looking forward to being part of this special year.

4. You have a new team mate this season with Ben Spies joining the team, are you enjoying working with a new rider?

Yes, Ben is a friendly guy, he is serious on the track like me but we have no problems between each other and I don't think we will have in the future either. Our situation is very strong as we are two very fast riders. I think the way we are on track and the way we are away from the track are very different. It's good for us to have a great relationship, not just for us but to help Yamaha to develop the bike.

5. You have completed one test now here at Sepang, what is your feeling for the 2011 YZR-M1?

I don't think any rider is ever totally satisfied but I understand it is really difficult to improve a MotoGP bike at this level when it is already so successful. I have confidence in Yamaha and believe we will keep on having a winning bike like the previous years.

6. This year you have chosen to run the number one on your bike, what was your reason to do this?

Whenever I have the opportunity I will put the number one on my bike. When I was in Mallorca racing in the Mallorcan championship I always put the number one on and when I won the world championship in 250cc I put the number one on. Traditionally when a rider becomes champion they earn the right to do it so I will keep doing it whenever I have the chance.

7. Last year you were famous for your unusual race victory celebrations, do you have anything exciting planned for this year?

No plans yet but if I did I couldn't tell you!

8. You will be testing again tomorrow here at Sepang, what is your focus for this test?

I've worked a lot on my physical condition over the last two weeks as I felt quite tired in the last test after so long not riding a MotoGP bike. Now with a better condition and more used to the bike again I'm going to push harder and see what Yamaha has to bring for the test.

9. Do you have a message for Yamaha racing fans?

It's the 50th anniversary of Yamaha in Grand Prix racing so it's a very special year. Finally we have the number one on the bike after 17 years so it's an important year for the whole Yamaha family, I hope you all enjoy this year's races.

10. You've had an opportunity to see the 2011 special Yamaha corporate racing blue livery on your bike now, what are your first impressions?

It's really nice, I'm a big fan of the official colours of Yamaha so I'm very happy with it.

11. What are your predictions for Ben this season?

I think Ben is going to fight for the championship. He is very fast and has already shown he can fight to the front of the pack and was the best satellite rider last year.

Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Racing Rider:

1. 2010 was an impressive MotoGP debut for you, earning the Rookie of the Year title, how was your first full season in MotoGP?

It was good, I had a lot to learn. It was definitely the most learning and the toughest year I've had in racing, which was to be expected as MotoGP is the elite racing league. I learnt a bunch of new tracks and got to grips with a new team, it was a big learning year! We hit our stride mid-season and kept working on it, scoring a second place, a pole position and a couple of podiums. Securing the factory ride made it a great year.

2. As a result of this success you are now a Yamaha Factory rider this season. How does it feel to join the top team in the championship? Is it a different experience?

A lot of people might look at it and think it's a lot of pressure but for me now the pressure is off. Last year I needed to prove something which I did. Now I'm on the factory team I feel I worked hard last year to get there and deserve it. Now I need to keep giving 100%, I've got a great crew behind me and am riding for a great manufacturer. We should have a great bike this year and I've got a world champion team mate so I've got the best of the best. This is the last step, MotoGP, on a factory bike, the only thing left to do in a rider's career is win a MotoGP race and win a MotoGP championship and that's not impossible.

3. This is now your third year as a Yamaha rider, considering this is the 50th Anniversary of Yamaha's MotoGP racing is it a unique experience to be part of the Yamaha family?

For sure, just to be part of the Yamaha family is a big thing, I've been here for three years now and it's been great. They welcomed me in my first year and I'm proud that I've been able to win the first world superbike title for them. This year moving to the factory team in the same year as the 50th anniversary is huge for me, there's going to be some special things going on during the season and being team mates with the world champion at this time is very cool.

4. How are you finding the 2011 YZR-M1?

It's good. We've had three days on it now to evaluate. We've still got a lot of stuff to work through and test and look at and hopefully some more stuff at Qatar. With 2012 coming and 1000cc rule changes there's not going to be any mind blowing changes to the bike on the grid, but Yamaha have made some improvements for what we needed.

5. It must be a great learning opportunity to share your garage with the reigning world champion?

Absolutely! Jorge is the fastest guy in the world, you can either be intimidated by it or learn from it. I'd like to think there's a lot of things I do like the way I approach my racing and the way I race a motorcycle that I like, but there's things I need to learn that I'd like to learn from Jorge, not just how to go faster on a motorcycle. He's got that pure speed so again there's no one I'd rather be team mates with than the fastest person.

6. You spent a productive year in 2010 learning the new circuits of this championship, what are your goals for this season?

You can't just jump in and say we're going for the championship this year, it's still early and it's only our second season. We finished sixth at the end of 2010; I always want to do better every year I race so I want to finish inside the top five this year. Realistically my aim is to battle for wins and podiums. Usually in a MotoGP race you can see clearly one guy who looks good for the win, and then you can see the podium battle, I want to be in that battle every weekend and I want to win a couple of races. Obviously we want to win the title, that's everybody's goal, but realistically a battle for the podium and aim for top five every race is the target. When there's a win possible we'll go for it and hopefully we'll get a couple of shots at it.

7. You have some old faces and some new faces in the pit-garage this year, following your test two weeks ago, how is the feeling with your crew?

The feeling is really good, the last test was the first time I've worked with everybody on the team, it's my first year with the data engineer who used to be with Valentino obviously knows the bike really well. I've been with my Crew Chief and head mechanic for years so I know them really well. I've worked with some of my mechanics before either in World Superbike championship, wild cards in MotoGP or in AMA. The team director Massimo Meregalli was my team manager in Superbike and helped me win my first world title.

8. What's your game plan for this next test here in Sepang?

During the last test we worked on some key elements, this time we'll be working on the set up, trying to get that fast lap time out of the bike and some more race distance runs to see how the bike behaves after a few laps. We'll mess with the electronics a little bit and see what we can do. The last test was evaluating and choosing parts to use for the year, now we have a base pack and we need to fine tune it to go faster!

9. Do you have a message for Yamaha racing fans?

I think Yamaha is a great team, it's a great year with the anniversary going on so it's going to be spectacular. A lot of people are going to be wanting to watch the racing and be involved.

10. You've had an opportunity to see the 2011 special Yamaha corporate racing blue livery on your bike now, what are your first impressions?

I think it's really good, I love the corporate colours and think it looks very professional. It's pretty loud and very unique and classic. I'm a big fan of the style!

11. What are your predictions for Jorge this season?

I think he's the man to beat for sure. He's the guy that when he puts his helmet on he has one thing on his mind. On the track he's matured and we can all see that. He's got the speed and he's learnt how to harness it. When he needs to turn it up he's able to do that so I predict he's the man to beat, if anyone wants to win the world title they've got to go through him.


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The rest better get used to it in 2011. Nice to hear George suggesting Ben is a Championship contender and Ben making no bones about #1 as being the rider to beat. Should the M1 be as a good a piece of kit as it always has been,sponsorship or not,they start out as title favourites.Inasmuch as developing the bike and keeping abreast or ahead of HRC and Ducati this season,I have no doubt that George's experience and Bens clinical analysis will keep propelling the project into 2012 and beyond.Naturally Lorenzo will do his best to defend the #1 plate and Spies has set himself a goal of no less than 5th.
I'm looking as forward to this season as I did 2006.I can count at least 7 potential winners at any one race this season instead of the usual 4.

Astute comments above.

The Honda's are scary fast but the Yamaha's are precisely refined. Kind of like a beauty and the beast love story.

I'm about to bust with anticipation for the flag to drop.

>>I'm about to bust with anticipation for the flag to drop

It's killing me!!

I hope that we have great racing throughout the year. I thought last year would rock - but save for the last several races it was pretty average or below in terms of racing (Mortegi and sepang made up for lots of ground however).

Bring it on