One of the most striking - if expected - facts to come out of Yamaha's MotoGP team launch was the fact that Yamaha has been left without a title sponsor. Naturally, when the Yamaha team was presented to the press, Lin Jarvis was asked about this, and Yamaha have issued some of the answers he gave in a press release:
2011 YAMAHA FACTORY RACING LAUNCH Q&A
Lin Jarvis, Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing Srl:
1. How significant is the 50th Anniversary of Yamaha's involvement in Grand Prix racing for the team?
This year will be a very exciting year for us. Yamaha has been involved in racing for so many years, since almost the beginning of the company. It really is something that's in our DNA so to celebrate the 50th Anniversary as the factory team this year is an honour.
2. This will be the third consecutive season start for you as holders of the Triple Crown in MotoGP. Does this give you extra pressure for the championship?
Not really, in racing you have to be realistic; at the start of every season you actually have nothing to lose because everybody starts with zero points. What we've achieved with the hat trick of Triple Crowns is fantastic and it's in the history books already. If we can do it a fourth time that's great, we'll certainly be putting our maxim effort in.
3. Jorge Lorenzo performed fantastically last year, taking the well deserved championship title, what are your hopes for him this season?
We've seen Jorge grow step by step in the three seasons he's ridden for us. In the first he was fourth, the second he was second then he became champion. If he can keep his focus as pure as it was last year, have the same dedication towards the title and if we as a team can provide him with the bike then I think he's in good shape to win the title again.
4. You welcome 2010 rookie of the year Ben Spies this season as you go into a new era for the team, why was he chosen as Jorge's new team mate?
Ben was a natural choice for us, he's entering into his third season with the Yamaha family now. He joined us in World Superbike and that sensational debut year gave Yamaha its first ever WSB title so he showed immediately his potential. We knew before we signed him he had talent, once we saw him close up it was confirmed that he was a very talented rider and very ambitious as well. I think he can have a very strong year and I think he will really benefit from the step into the factory team.
5. There are many new faces in the team with a new crew supporting Spies, how is the feeling in the team for the new season?
It's good! Obviously we had Vale with us for seven years which was an amazing era. Now were stepping into a new time. The whole team has been refreshed and regrouped. We have Maio Meregalli joining us from Word Superbike as Team Director and we have Wilco Zeleenberg staying onboard with us for his second full season so we have a strong management team. Although the Ben Spies side of the team is new many of them have worked with Ben over the years and some have worked with Yamaha last year so it's a re-assembly of Ben's side of the garage. On Jorge's side of the garage there's no change. They say you should never change a winning team so we haven't changed a single thing. I think we're in good shape and I can see the team working more as a single unit this year.
6. After a successful relationship with FIAT you will be starting the 2011 season with no title sponsor, how does this affect the team for the season?
Obviously it's a pity that FIAT is not with us this year as we had four fantastic seasons together, I think they were probably the most successful title sponsor ever in the sport; four seasons, three championships and three Triple Crowns. They have now changed their communications strategy and along with the departure of Valentino we have seen a shift in our focus area towards sponsorship, having been primarily Italian based in the past. We've been talking to several potential sponsors and partners in Asia and in Spain but finally we haven't been able to find anything that will work well for us at present. As a result we will start the season in blue which is quite appropriate as we are celebrating our 50th anniversary so it's fitting we begin in our corporate colours. There's no negative consequence of this situation, it actually gives us freedom to do some extra special things in our 50th year. For the future we would welcome any new partner to get involved with us and we are open to changes.
7. Although Yamaha Factory Racing will not be starting the season with a title sponsor, we do have two new official sponsors joining us this season, would you like to introduce them?
Firstly, before introducing the newcomers, I would like to reconfirm that we will be continuing with our existing important major sponsors which are Petronas, the Malaysian oil and petrochemical company and also Semakin di Depan, which is our Yamaha Indonesia sponsor. In addition to that we have Yamalube and Iveco on board and all our technical sponsors are staying with us.
The two newcomers we have this year are an Italian company called FAAC which is a leader in electronic gates, barriers and security systems and we also have Akrapovic joining us as an exhaust pipe manufacturer, supplier and sponsor. We have many partners that we continue with and we are delighted to welcome some new.