The Yamaha Monster Motocross Team will be hoping to strike extra fear into their FIM Motocross World Championship rivals in 2008 thanks to a new alliance with Monster Energy drinks. The factory-backed Grand Prix squad - now entitled 'Yamaha Monster Motocross Team' thanks to the title sponsorship - will benefit from a high-profile three year joint programme with one of the new powerful movers in motorcycle racing for their attempt on the MX1-GP title.
On the eve of the first Grand Prix of fifteen in the 2008 MX1-GP World Championship the heart of the press corps headed north of Valkenswaard - location of the Eurocircuit, venue of the GP of the Netherlands - to see Philippaerts, Coppins and key personnel from Yamaha Motor Europe and Monster Energy present the new all-black factory YZ450FMs for the imminent season.
After the beach demonstration that saw Philippaerts manfully steer a snowmobile for the first time and Coppins actually getting some air under his wheels on the ATV, the riders and team took the covers off the works machinery and then joined in a small Q+A before a dinner took place. Over forty journalists and photographers from Europe, USA and Japan gathered to witness proceedings.
"For six years we have been pushing hard for titles with a lot of success, and as this is the first time that we will be wanting our red plate back everyone is more motivated than ever this season," said Yamaha Motor Europe's Racing Division Manager Laurens Klein Koerkamp. "In Josh Coppins we have a strong and fast rider who came so close to our fourth championship in four years last season and with David we have some new young blood that we hope will be capable of some very good results. We will be on the attack in the premier-class in 2008. I would also like to extend a deep welcome to Monster Energy and we look forward to a prosperous relationship together."
"Yamaha's team in MX1-GP is one with a fantastic heritage and a record of results that we like to be associated with," said Monster Energy spokesman Scott Sepkovic. "We have a strong belief in allying our product with motocross and supercross and this can be seen in our support of youth programmes right through to our top athletes. I want to wish Josh and David all the best for the coming season."
"The main difference you can see with the 2008 race machinery compared with 2007, is the colour," joked Team Principal Michele Rinaldi, alluding to the departure of the Yamaha blue. "The bike has undergone some modifications to the chassis and suspension, we have gone from 50mm to 48 on the front end, and the engine has also had some work to the cylinder head, valve and exhaust among other things to improve the torque which gives more traction and stability. The noise limit has also been lowered from 96 to 94 decibels and this presented another technical challenge. As ever I am indebted to the work of the team and also our technical crew behind-the-scenes. We will see tomorrow the fruits of our work and hopefully even more so on Sunday afternoon."
"I did not think I could be hungrier than I was last season to win the championship," said Josh Coppins who came through his outing on the ATV without any problems regarding his healing toes. "However it is obvious that I have some unfinished business from last season. This is the not best start I could have hoped for," he added referring to the support cast on his right foot "but I will be out there and ready to get this year underway."
"The 2007 bike was already good but I feel the changes we have produced for this year have made it more user friendly - certainly for me - and it is good for your confidence to go to the gate with something you know is capable of delivering the goods," the 31 year old commented on the 2008 YZ450FM.
"It is great to be part of this team, especially for me being Italian; it is so easy to work with them and I feel very comfortable," admitted Philippaerts, who makes his Grand Prix debut for the team over the weekend. "I think the good feeling I have has been obvious with some decent pre-season races. I am excited to start the season now and can't wait for tomorrow."
The first day of practice and qualification at the Valkenswaard circuit takes place on Saturday before the two 35 minutes and 2 lap motos for the MX1-GP and MX2-GP classes commence on Sunday.