Yamaha Motor Company Ltd. and Fiat Automobiles S.p.A. marked the second year of their MotoGP partnership today, at the official 2008 Fiat Yamaha Team Launch in Turin, Italy. The presentation was hosted by Italian TV star Simona Ventura and took place at the historic Lingotto building, which was Fiat's car factory from 1923 until 1982.
The building, which features a unique rooftop test track, played host to a different type of wheel power today when the new 2008 YZR-M1s, sporting an updated version of the Fiat Yamaha Team's eye-catching white and blue livery, were unveiled. Yamaha's double MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi was present at the ceremony alongside his new team-mate, 20-year-old Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, who is making the step up to MotoGP after two years as 250cc World Champion.
Also present today were Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing Srl, Masahiko Nakajima, Fiat Yamaha Team Director and YZR-M1 Project Leader, Davide Brivio and Daniele Romagnoli, Fiat Yamaha Team Managers, and Lorenzo Sistino, CEO of the Fiat brand.
"I'm very happy that we're so close to the start of racing," said Rossi, who will contest this season on Bridgestone tyres for the first time. "This is a very important year for us and our only aim is to win, although it's going to be hard work. My hand is much better, if not yet perfect, and I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike in Sepang next week. Everyone has been working very hard over the winter and I think our new bike is quite good, although of course we still have a lot of work to do. Everyone is very motivated and I know that we have the best team there is."
Lorenzo, whose M1 will be Michelin-shod this season, enjoyed his first official day as a Yamaha rider. "I'm very happy to be here, with these people, this bike and in this team. I have a long way to go in my development but I have improved each time I've ridden the bike and the last test especially was very good. I'm very excited about this season and it's a great honour to share the garage with Valentino, who is without doubt the most complete talent in our sport."
Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, commented, "We're very pleased to be continuing our strong partnership with our title sponsor Fiat. Meanwhile, the most important change to our team is the arrival of Jorge Lorenzo as Valentino Rossi's new team-mate. Our aim is to recapture the title and, as our most experienced rider, this is Valentino's clear mission. However we also expect Jorge to be fighting at the front as he gains experience. We have two multiple World Championship winning riders in our team and we believe we have optimum chance to realise our ambitions.
"As well as continuing with Fiat, we also enter into a second year with Official Sponsors AIA and ACER, and we're also delighted to announce today the arrival of a new Official Sponsor in solar-energy company KERSELF, with whom we have concluded a two-year sponsorship agreement. Another important new partner is YAMALUBE, Yamaha's own high performance lubricants brand. Plus, as everyone knows, this season we will be working with both Michelin and Bridgestone tyre brands and we would like to thank them, as well as all our official sponsors and suppliers, for their continued support."
"The Fiat Yamaha initiative has been a success for Fiat from the start," added Lorenzo Sistino, CEO of the Fiat brand. "The team is young, successful and dynamic and MotoGP brings us very close to our target market and gives us great visibility, not only in Italy but worldwide. We're looking forward to another great year with Yamaha."
The Fiat Yamaha Team's 2008 campaign gets underway in Sepang, Malaysia next week with the first of four pre-season tests. The 18-round MotoGP season commences in Qatar on 9th of March.