Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
Gauloises Yamaha Team Preview
Gauloises Dutch TT, Assen
23rd, 24th, 25th June 2005


Coinciding with the year of Yamaha's 50th anniversary, two legendary players in
the history of motorcycle racing come together this weekend as the Gauloises
Yamaha Team heads to the historic circuit of Assen for the 75th edition of the
Dutch TT. With a 58-point advantage at the top of the rider standings, Valentino
Rossi will look to continue his sensational start to his fourth consecutive
title defence with another victory in the seventh round of the MotoGP World
Championship, the Gauloises Dutch TT in Assen.

With five victories and one second-place so far this season, the Italian heads
to Assen, the only Grand Prix to have remained on the World Championship
calendar since it began back in 1949, in better shape than ever. His points lead
is the biggest after six rounds of a premier-class World Championship since
former Yamaha superstar Giacomo Agostini in the late 1960s, and an early morning
test less than 24 hours after his most recent victory at Catalunya last week
underlined his determination to keep on winning.

The Italian has tasted victory at the Dutch TT four times in the different Grand
Prix classes, whilst his Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards also knows all
about winning at Assen. The American took three victories there in the World
Superbike series, including a double win on the way to reclaiming the title from
Troy Bayliss in a gripping climax to the 2002 season.  He is confident of
rejoining the battle for podium positions in Assen, after two difficult races at
Mugello and Catalunya have seen him lose ground on the championship leaders,
despite consolidating sixth place in the current rider standings.

Assen has been the scene of hard work over the last few months for the
completion of a 'floating' grandstand, which meets new MotoGP safety regulations
by allowing the gravel trap in the Geert Timmer corner to actually run
underneath the stand. Two changes have also been made to the layout of the
racetrack, which is now 30 metres shorter.

As is tradition, the Dutch TT will be held on the final Saturday in June,
although this year it will feature a slightly different time schedule to the
other rounds of the MotoGP World Championship. Whilst both practice days on
Thursday and Friday will follow the regular timetable, Saturday's schedule will
start with the warm-up sessions from 8:20am to 10:05am in order to accommodate a
host of support races. Despite this, the MotoGP race will still start at 2pm as


The reigning World Champion became the first Yamaha rider ever to score five
victories from the first six premier class races of the year at Catalunya last
Sunday, a record he credits to the great job being done by the entire team and
their partners.

"The race time at Catalunya was 40 seconds faster than last year, so that shows
that the work we have done with the bike is incredible," says Rossi. "Also
Michelin have done a fantastic job because I was able to put in three very fast
laps at the end to win the race, including the lap record, so the tyres have
made a huge improvement. The advantage in the standings means we can work nice
and calmly in the team and that is a big help."

Including his performances in the final three rounds of 2004, Rossi has now been
on the podium at the last nine races, the first Yamaha rider to do so since
Wayne Rainey in 1992-93, and he is hoping that continuing work with the YZR-M1
machine can help him extend his run well beyond this Saturday's historic race.
"On Monday after the race at Catalunya we were able to test some new engine
parts that we might use later in the season, so we are always trying to improve.
Of course, I want to be on the podium at every race but my main objective is to
win the championship.

"The season has started well and we want to continue that. It has been nice to
have a weekend off after two tough races because the whole team have been
working hard. Now we go to Assen and it is going to be another hard Grand Prix.
I'm looking forward to it; I think it will be another beautiful battle.

"For sure Gibernau and Melandri will both be fast there but racing close
together with them is great.  I like Assen too; it's one of my favourite
circuits. It's a very special racetrack, unlike anything else in MotoGP, and the
atmosphere is incredible - always a lot of people. The only question is the
weather because you never know if it will rain."


Colin Edwards enjoyed a brief rest on the north coast of Spain before making his
way to Holland for a Grand Prix that he hopes  will  be the turning point for
him after a difficult couple of weekends. The Texan and his team have worked
relentlessly to improve the base set-up of the YZR-M1 but this weekend the focus
is on using every possible minute of the practice sessions to find a setting
that will allow him to challenge for a front row start and victory in the race.

"The next three races, Assen, Donington and Laguna Seca, are all tracks that I
grew up on, so I'm really looking forward to getting back to the front and
picking up some serious points," says Edwards. "On paper the Yamaha should work
well at all of these tracks and we've been constantly moving forward with the
bike, even if the results haven't shown that lately.

"The team have been doing a great job every weekend but from now on we need to
make sure we finish off in the right way on a Sunday, or in this case Saturday.
In Catalunya we learnt that we have to spend more time focussing purely on
set-up and tyre combinations for the race, instead of getting distracted by
other factors. We also need to make sure we get a good qualifying position so
that we can run from the front in the race, instead of fighting through the
field, as I have done in the last couple of races."

As well as his vast experience racing four-stroke machines at Assen, Edwards is
also counting on the massive support that swarms to Holland from all over
Europe, but particularly across the North Sea from the UK, to back his cause.

"The whole team needs a good result to get back to the way we were feeling at Le
Mans and I'm confident that Assen is the perfect place for that. I've got a lot
of fans there from my Superbike days, the atmosphere is going to be crazy and I
know my way around the track as well as anybody. Let's just hope everything
slots into place"


Gauloises Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio is looking forward to another
weekend of close racing action that he hopes will end in further celebrations
for his riders and staff. Still on top of the riders', teams' and manufacturers'
standings, Brivio is confident of another top performance from Valentino Rossi
and a return to form for Colin Edwards at a circuit that has been given a
special name by Italian race fans.

"Last year we won at Assen, which we call the 'University of Bike Racing' in
Italy, and it would be nice to win again," says Brivio. "Especially because this
is the year of the 75th anniversary of the Dutch TT and the 50th anniversary of
Yamaha - it would be fun to celebrate together on Saturday night!

"Valentino will try for sure to continue his positive start to the series and
for Colin it is also an important race. This is one of his favourite tracks, he
knows it very well and I want to see him back on the podium. There are many more
riders than normal who are fast at this track so it will be tough, but we are

"At Catalunya we tested a few new engine parts but we won't be taking any of it
to Assen. The idea was just to gather extra data for Yamaha for future
development. We'll be going to Holland with the same bike that we've had for the
past races, which has shown to be very competitive at a variety of different


This weekend will mark 21 years since Giacomo Agostini, the undisputed king of
Assen, took an unequalled sixth 500cc victory in the Dutch TT in 1974.
Agostini's second win for Yamaha after joining the factory at the start of that
season was also Yamaha's first in the legendary event, and is remembered fondly
by the Italian for precisely that reason.

"The 1974 victory at Assen was very special for me because it was the first
there by any rider on a 500cc two-stroke, and the first win for Yamaha at the
circuit.," remembers Agostini, who won 68 races and eight world titles in a
remarkable 500cc career. "It was my first season with Yamaha after moving from
MV Agusta and I was so pleased to win at Assen because Yamaha's European
headquarters were based in Amsterdam. It was their home Grand Prix and they were
like a family to me.

"I should have won it again in 1975 but I made a big mistake two corners from
the end. I looked over my shoulder and saw Barry Sheene about 15 metres behind
me so I relaxed too much. Somehow he passed me at the line."

After 75 years of Grand Prix the modern TT is a special event on the MotoGP
calendar but according to Agostini that has always been the way - particularly
thanks to its traditional place on the World Championship calendar.

"Going to Assen was always very nice for us because it came straight after the
Isle of Man TT," he explains. "We went from an incredibly dangerous and
difficult road circuit, where we had to be up at 4am for practice, to this
beautiful facility that was perfect for motorcycle racing and in normal Grand
Prix conditions. The track was safe, there were 150,000 people there... it was
always a special emotion to ride at the Dutch TT.  Why did I always win it?
Because I am good!"


Assen is unique in a number of ways; the Dutch TT originally began life as a
28km street circuit before being shortened to comply with the ever-changing
demands of modern motorcycle racing. The most recent of these changes took place
during the winter break with alterations at the De Bult and Ruskenhoek corners,
bringing the total length of the Grand Prix track to 5,997 metres. Even so, the
Assen layout is still the longest on the MotoGP calendar and continues to
maintain its street pedigree, giving it a character all its own. 

With barely a straight piece of tarmac in sight, there is no rest for the MotoGP
field, making Assen more of a rider's circuit than any other visited this
season. Handling will therefore be a major focal point, due to high-speed
chicanes and dramatic camber changes - the latter, in some places, resembling
the profile of a public road more than that of a motorcycle racetrack. This
single feature in itself makes Assen a challenging circuit to master. Hold the
inside line and the rider will benefit from the extra drive available off the
steeper section of the camber, but the suspension will need to compensate for
these much higher G-force loads. 

A good result at Assen relies heavily on a chassis that offers both agility and
stability. It is quite a difficult balance to find at the best of times, but
with the 'white line to white line' racing line, it is a must. This is why
Yamaha will continue with the base geometry it has used over the past few
rounds, relying on the finer adjustments of the suspension package and the
correct tyre profiles to get the best out of the chassis.

The combination of such fast cornering, good grip levels and extreme camber
angles produce the high cornering G-forces, a load which the suspension package
will need to deal with. For this reason, a heavier rear spring rate will be
chosen, in comparison to the front set-up, to prevent the back of the bike
squatting under power.  However it will still need to offer a compliant ride, to
ensure feel is not compromised and the compression damping character is dialled
in to compensate and avoid this. Therefore it will be wound back, from what was
used in Barcelona two-weeks earlier, increasing the predictability of a slide as
well as tyre life.

Although the rear spring rate is firmer than what Yamaha would use at a circuit
like Mugello, the front will be somewhat softer in feel. The latter is possible
because of the lack of hard braking that will be done on the flowing layout, as
trail braking into the apex is the only way to a good TT lap time.

With an outright top speed of around 300kmh Assen isn't the fastest circuit,
especially when you compare it to the 337kmh plus of Mugello. But the Dutch TT
isn't about outright top speeds, the key is a top speed average. In this regard
Assen is one of the fastest tracks of the year. Because of this it's an extreme
and hard working circuit, not only for the riders and the chassis, but the tyres
too. Fortunately grip levels are high, yet the track surface isn't too abrasive,
even though almost all the driving will be done off the side of the tyres.


Age: 26
Lives: London, UK
Bike: Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1
GP victories: 73 (34 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: 146 (54 x MotoGP, 32 x 500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 38
World Championships - 6 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 3 x MotoGP)
Assen 2004 results (Yamaha): Grid: 1st, Race: 1st


Age: 31
Lives: Conroe, Texas
Bike: Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1
First GP: Japan, 2003 (MotoGP)
GP starts: 38
World Championships - 2 World Superbike
Assen 2004 results (Honda): Grid: 13th, Race: 6th

Assen MotoGP lap record:

Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), 1m 59.472s - 2004

Circuit best lap:

Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), 1m 58.758s - 2004