Yamaha Motor Racing issued the following press release after the launch of their 2017 racing program, including their WorldSBK effort, in Milan:
Yamaha Motor Europe Launches 2017 Racing Challenge in Italy
As the new racing season draws closer, Yamaha Motor Europe N.V. has taken a moment between preseason testing activities to gather all of the Official Race Teams together to kick-off the 2017 Road and Off-Road line up. The international racing media were invited to join the Official Race Teams Press Conference on 7th February at the headquarters of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team in Gerno di Lesmo, Italy.
Hosted for the third year running by MotoGP Championship commentator Gavin Emmett, the event saw an impressive 15 teams and 41 riders and their team managers unveil their 2017 liveries and Yamaha machinery to the gathered press and partners. Prior to the teams unveiling, Yamaha Motor Europe N.Vs Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Eric de Seynes took a moment to share his
insights on not just the 2017 line up, but also on Yamahas racing strategy and a sales review of Off-Road and Supersport market segments.
Equalling Yamahas Off-Road efforts, the 2017 road racing line up looks set to contend at the top with a wealth of talent represented across the classes. Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Project Manager Andrea Dosoli was present to share the high expectations for the coming season. The re-energised WorldSBK Team now has deeper Yamaha Motor Company involvement in the project and a larger technical R&D department, relocated to Yamahas historic World Superbike headquarters at Gerno di Lesmo, adjoining the MotoGP Team base.The media were given an insight into the return of Yamaha to the Supersport 600 class and new YZF-R6, ready to be competitive from the start, and of course the activities in the junior support class with the YZF-R3. Six young bLU cRU riders will compete in 2017 in the R3 bLU cRU Challenge inside the new FIM Supersport 300 World Championship. The young hopefuls were introduced on stage, before giving way to the larger capacity teams. The next generation of the multi-championship winning R6 was presented at the Press Conference in the hands of The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team. GRT Yamaha boasts ex-125 and 250 Grand Prix World Championship rider Mirko Giansanti as its Sporting and Technical Director, with Filippo Conti alongside as Team Manager. The team have progressed through national and European championships in recent years before challenging in WorldSSP from last season. 2017 witnesses their assault on the premier Supersport class with 2016 Endurance World Champion Lucas Mahias and Federico Caricasulo at the helm of the YZF-R6.
The Pata Yamaha Official Team WorldSBK were next to showcase their 2017 racing livery, with British rider Alex Lowes returning for his second year with Yamaha alongside new for this season teammate, Dutchman rider Michael van der Mark. The pairing have already enjoyed positive preseason testing alongside the WorldSSP600 team and are keen to arrive in Australia for round one of the 2017 season at Phillip Island to kick off their campaign. WorldSBK siblings the Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team return for 2017 ready to do battle with the YZF-R1M in the newly defined European Superstock 1000 Championship. French rider Florian Marino returns for the second year having showed impressive pace from the start of 2016- including pole position in the opening race - before an accident in the second round cut his season short. Intensive training and rehabilitation now complete, Marino is eager to get back to work with his Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team and confirm his skill, speed and talent. He is joined by new teammate, Italian rider Roberto Tamburini, the 2015 Superstock 1000 Cup runner up.
The 2017 Road Racing line up wrapped up with the presentation of the team and rider representation for the Endurance World Championship. Beginning with French effort, the GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team. The Double World Championship winning squad are out to add a third title to their impressive score after missing out by the narrowest of margins in 2016. Taking up that challenge is a strong three rider line-up that sees loyal GMT94 man David Checa joined by 2008 125cc world champion Mike di Meglio and Niccolò Canepa, the former FIM Superstock 1000 champion and MotoGP rider who joined the team for their spectacular photo finish win at the 12 hour round at Portimão last season. Last but by no means least, The YART Yamaha Official EWC
Team stepped up to complete the Yamaha Racing 2017 Official Team launch. The 2009 EWC World Champions ended 2016 sixth in the four round championship, the highlight being a magnificent fourth at the Suzuka 8 Hours, where they were the highest placed of the regular world endurance teams. For 2017 the squad has another powerhouse squad with regulars Max Neukirchner and Broc Parkes being joined by talented Japanese Rider Kohta Nozane and German youngster Marvin Fritz.
As a test rider for Yamaha, Nozanes participation reflects not just the competitive development of the YZF-R1, but also Yamahas commitment to the development and progression of talented young riders, preparing them for opportunities to participate in significant world championships. For 2017 The YART Team switches to a new tyre manufacturer, beginning an exciting new adventure defined by a long-term cooperation with Bridgestone Tyres. The Japanese tyre manufacturer will become a Factory supported partner in cooperation with the Yamaha Factory Racing
Motorsport Division in Japan and the YART Team. As OEM supplier for the YZF-R1M, Bridgestone is already ahead of the game and ready to fight for victory on-track with Yamaha in 2017.
There was one more surprise for the gathered media to set the tone for the day, as Yamaha Motor Racing Director Lin Jarvis took to the stage to thank media and partners for their attendance and share insight into the 2017 MotoGP strategy for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team, the pinnacle of the wider Yamaha commitment to Motorsport.