Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
Gauloises Yamaha Team Preview
Spanish Grand Prix
Jerez, Spain
8, 9, 10 April 2005


The Gauloises Yamaha Team returns to the Jerez circuit in Spain this week to
begin its defence of the MotoGP World Championship title after an intense winter
of tests, which concluded at the Spanish circuit just eight days ago. In the
year of Yamaha's 50th anniversary, current World Champion Valentino Rossi and
his new team-mate Colin Edwards will be challenging for victory on the new,
improved version of the impressive YZR-M1 machine, that swept to the title in
Rossi's prodigious hands in 2004.

It's been a busy winter for the Italian, which began with an historic journey to
Yamaha's head office in Iwata, Japan, to receive the certificate of ownership
for his title-winning YZR-M1. The bike was given to Rossi as a personal 'thank
you' from the company's president, Mr Toru Hasegawa, last November. Since then
Yamaha's engineers and Rossi have worked extensively on the 2005 version of the
machine at in-depth test sessions in Malaysia, Australia and Spain, where he has
been joined by his new Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Edwards.

The new pairing have a similar riding style and, having previously worked
closely together at the Suzuka 8 Hour Endurance race, have forged a close
relationship that has helped accelerate development of the 2005 version YZR-M1.

The 990cc, 220+hp machine is a far cry from Yamaha Motor Company's first race
motorcycle, the 5hp YA-1, which enjoyed a winning debut at the Mount Fuji Ascent
Race in 1955. That historic victory made the YA-1 officially the fastest
motorcycle in Japan and the philosophy behind its creation is what has driven
Yamaha to building the championship-winning motorcycle.

Fifty years ago, Yamaha's then-President Genichi Kawakami challenged his team to
"achieve the greatest possible results within the given conditions by making
thorough preparations, checking operations for completeness and practising in
actual race conditions". Rossi and Edwards worked precisely to that end during
three days of IRTA tests at Jerez last week and are now itching to reap the
fruits of their labour in this weekend's opening Grand Prix.

Traditionally the first European race of the season, Jerez this year opens the
championship for the first time and is sure to welcome a capacity crowd. The
2004 event attracted record weekend attendances in excess of 206,000 people,
with almost 125,000 turning out on race day, despite torrential rainstorms, to
maintain the unique atmosphere that has become synonymous with one of MotoGP's
most prestigious events. 


Valentino Rossi admits he is relishing the opportunity to go racing again after
a long winter of public appearances and tests. In recent weeks the World
Champion has worked intensively on the chassis setting of his 2005 YZR-M1 in
order to make it as agile as last year's machine and, after experiencing some
initial problems, the Jerez tests confirmed his rapid progress as he steadily
worked towards a succession of highly-promising lap times on race tyres.

"I'm happy at last to have finished testing and to be going racing," says Rossi.
"We've done so many kilometres with the bike and on planes that it already feels
like the middle of the season! We've got a new bike and some things are very
different to the old M1 so we've needed this development time. We've made some
mistakes along the way but overall we've done some good work and I think we are
ready to race now. I'm confident about the first race."

Rossi has a stronger record at Jerez than any other rider, winning here on no
fewer than five occasions in the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP classes.
However, the Italian admits he has a score to settle after a disappointing race
last year, when heavy rain hindered his chances of finishing any higher than
fourth place after qualifying in pole position.

"Jerez is one of my favourite tracks. It suits my riding style well; it's
technical and difficult, with long, fast corners where the line is very
important, and hard braking. I made a lot of kilometres here on the 125 and 250
bikes when I was younger and I almost always have a good race here. However
after last year I have an account to settle with the circuit! I was very fast in
the dry, with pole position, but then the rain ruined it on race day - I hope
this year it will stay dry."

After taking the title in his first season with Yamaha, Rossi is now faced with
perhaps the even bigger challenge of defending his crown with his rivals knowing
exactly what to expect from the first race. "For sure this will be a very hard
fight this year," he admits. "Last year we surprised everyone and they didn't
expect us to win immediately. This year everyone will be trying to arrive in
front of us from the first race. I think that Gibernau will be my closest
competitor again but there are a lot of fast riders and it will be a big battle!

"To start the championship in Jerez is great for the fans and for sure there
will be a big, big party for everyone. The fans that come here are amazing and I
also hope for them that it doesn't rain!"


Colin Edwards is also looking forward to getting back to competitive action in
what will be his debut year for Yamaha in MotoGP. The American actually began
his top-level career with the factory, clinching his first professional win on a
Yamaha 250 at Daytona in 1992 before starting his World Superbike career with
the factory three years later, and he has quickly felt at home with both the
team and the YZR-M1.

Edwards, a specialist tyre tester, has worked extensively with Michelin and new
Crew Chief Daniele Romagnoli over the pre-season. The Gauloises Yamaha Team
rookie's swift adaptation to the demands of the YZR-M1 has allowed him to focus
on specific areas of development, such as engine mapping, to help create a
competitive overall package.

"I am happy with how I've rounded off the end of the preseason testing and I was
really glad to do some good work on race tyres during the IRTA Test in Jerez,"
says Edwards. "It was useful to have a test at the same circuit as the first
race and during all our hard work there we found a really good base set-up. I
hope that when we get to Jerez on Friday we'll be able to start working straight
away at the level we were at during the last test. Obviously it rained during
the race last year, which wasn't good for me, but we had a good test in the wet
during the IRTA test and I'm confident that we're ready for that, too.

"After so much flying this year, eight tests since Valencia and so many track
miles already ridden, I'm really happy that we're going racing at last!  After
the last tests I'm pleased with the bike and quite excited about the good
package that we've got to start the season with. I feel like I've come a long
way since I first sat on the Yamaha last November. The tests have been hard work
but there's no denying it's good to get so many laps under my belt."
Having only ridden at Jerez for the first time on his arrival to MotoGP two
seasons ago, Edwards doesn't have the same history there as Rossi and can only
boast a best finish of seventh at the circuit. However, the Texan built on his
knowledge at last week's IRTA tests and says he's ready to challenge for the
podium in any conditions.

"I rode a MotoGP bike for the very first time at Jerez and I've always liked the
track. However I haven't had very much luck there since then and I'm looking to
turn that around this year on the Yamaha!

"I'm determined to do well at the first race, I won't be happy with anything
less than the top step of the podium. I feel good about the forthcoming season
and I hope that I will be fighting for the championship from this very first GP.
The track has a good layout and it's definitely a rider's track. I'm looking
forward to seeing all the crazy fans as usual and I think it will be a good
place to kick off the new season!"


Gauloises Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio is as keen to get back to racing as
the riders, having worked equally hard over the winter to make sure the YZR-M1
is as competitive in 2005 as it was in 2004. Having won the team title as well
as the riders' title last season, Brivio admits there is more pressure on his
staff this time around but expressed his confidence in the diligence of their
preseason preparations.

"After a long winter, during which we've done a lot of testing, it's really good
to be finally going racing," commented Brivio, who has worked previously with
Edwards during his time in the World Superbike series. "We're very interested to
see the level of our bike against all the others; during testing everybody has
been very aggressive but also everybody tends to try to hide some things about
their bikes!

"We want to see where we really are against the others and this is the first
real chance. We're feeling a little bit different to this time last year; this
time everyone is looking at us and expecting us to be in front. Despite this
added pressure we're really excited about it!

"With Valentino and Colin we've had some ups and downs throughout the winter,
but it's generally been positive and we've concluded testing on a good note.
Valentino was not bad during the Barcelona test and he set some good times in
Jerez last week. There are still a few problems to solve on the new bike, but
nothing big and I'm confident that we're ready for the first race. I am sure
that the mechanics and engineers will be able to fix these things during the two
days of practice before the race.

"Colin has spent the winter working hard to adapt to a new bike and a new team.
We were pleased with his progress at the Jerez test and now we're looking
forward to seeing how he does at the first race. I think he has a good chance to
stay in the top group; this is our target for the first race. I hope that we can
see both our riders on the podium together often during this season; this is our


Almost two decades have passed since Yamaha's first success at the Jerez
circuit, when Eddie Lawson clinched victory in what was actually then called the
'Portuguese Grand Prix' in 1988. It was only the second race to be held at Jerez
and Yamaha was completely dominant, filling the podium with new boys Wayne
Rainey and Kevin Magee taking second and third places respectively behind Lawson.

The victory signalled a return to form for 'Steady Eddie', who had lost his
title to Wayne Gardner in 1987 after two consecutive 500cc World
Championship-winning campaigns for Yamaha. It also triggered a run of results
that would see the Californian reclaim his throne for the third time, as he went
on to win the next round at Imola and take four further victories from the
remaining ten races.

"That race feels like 100 years ago now but it was a really important victory
for myself and Yamaha," remembers Lawson, who ended his illustrious Grand Prix
career in 1992. "To be honest there were so many close races that season against
guys like Rainey, Gardner, Magee and Mamola that it's hard to remember the
details, but one thing that always stands out in your mind from Jerez is the
atmosphere. The sport had been made huge there at that time by guys like Angel
Nieto and I guess the tradition has continued from there."

Before Valentino Rossi's historic title triumph last season for Yamaha, Lawson
was the only rider ever to have won the premier-class for different
manufacturers in successive seasons. It is a feat he admits he expected to be
repeated much sooner and says that Rossi is a special talent.

"Records are there to be broken and to be honest I was sure mine would fall much
quicker than it did. I suppose if there is anybody out there who had to do it,
it would be Valentino. From what I have seen he is in another league to the
other riders, he is very impressive.

"Above all I was pleased to see Yamaha win the title again. I've still got a lot
of friends there and I'm delighted to see them enjoying the success they
definitely deserve."


The 4.423km Jerez circuit features five left and eight right hand corners, a
surprising degree of elevation and some camber changes on what, to the casual
observer, is a largely flat track layout. Exactness of line makes precise
chassis set-up a must, and to make the most of the squirts between corners a
clean and predictable throttle response is needed throughout the rev-range.

With only a 600m main straight, absolute horsepower comes into play relatively
infrequently, the most important factor being set-up for predictable performance
through the regular changes of direction. Some heavy braking points around the
track make that aspect of performance vital to a good race result, while the
surface is neither the slickest nor most abrasive on the calendar.

With Jerez a well-known quantity, particularly after the three days of IRTA
tests there just a week ago, the riders should find the right set-up for their
bikes relatively quickly. The fight for pole position is sure to be a close
affair, with seven riders having lapped inside Rossi's pole record at that final
pre-season session.

Excitement in qualifying will be even higher this season, as MotoGP now features
three free practice sessions and just one qualifying practice, which will be
held on the eve of the race.


Age: 26
Lives: London, UK
Bike: Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1
GP victories: 68 (29 X MotoGP, 13 X 500cc, 14 X 250cc, 12 X 125cc)
First GP victory:  Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 140 (48 x MotoGP, 32 x 500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
GP Pole positions: 35
World Championships - 6 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 3 x MotoGP)
Jerez 2004 results (Yamaha): Grid: 1st, Race: 4th


Age: 31
Lives: Conroe, Texas
Bike: Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1
GP victories: - 0
First GP: Japan, 2002 (MotoGP)
GP starts: 32 (MotoGP)
GP Pole positions: - 0
World Championships  - 2 World Superbike
Jerez 2004 results (Honda): Grid: 8th, Race: 7th

Jerez MotoGP lap record:

Valentino Rossi (Honda), 1m 42.788s - 2003

Circuit best lap:

Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), 1m 40.818s - 2004