With exactly one month to go before the first race of the new MotoGP season, the Camel Yamaha Team today celebrated the start of its 2006 campaign with a Team Presentation in Milan, in front of 300 guests and international media. World Champion Valentino Rossi and his American team-mate Colin Edwards, who was celebrating his 32nd birthday today, were joined on stage by VIP guests from Yamaha and Japan Tobacco International, as well as Italian TV presenter Marco Mazzocchi, who compered the presentation.
The bikes were uncovered by the Festi group of acrobats, who descended from the roof to reveal the M1s of Rossi and Edwards in their final 2006 livery. Mazzocchi then welcomed Masao Furusawa, Executive Officer for Engineering Operations at Yamaha Motor Company and Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing Srl, onto the stage.
"Even though the basic M1 concept for 2006 is the same", commented Furusawa, "this is a more sophisticated bike, especially with the increasing RPM of the engine. It is very important for the progression of the bike to keep Valentino and Colin together, as they are not just riders for us, but a key part of the development of the M1."
"Last year we got everything right with this team," added Jarvis. "The rider combination, the bike and every other element. Now our goal with our new title sponsor Camel is to achieve all this once again and win the championship."
Roberto Zanni, European Regional President for Japan Tobacco International, spoke about the exciting new partnership between Camel and Yamaha. "The feeling has been very good with Yamaha right from the beginning. Everything is very professional but also very friendly, it's a good atmosphere. I expect that the passion this year within this team will be very great and with two riders as successful as Valentino and Colin, we can expect great things."
Davide Brivio, the Team Director for the Yamaha Factory Team for the fifth year running, then took to the stage to talk about his goals for the season. "I think that everybody will really like the new livery, and especially the riders' numbers on the white squares. We needed to come up with something original for the livery without moving away from the Camel yellow, which we all really like, and now I think this final livery is going to look really spectacular on track. For the season, we're ready! We've done some important and successful tests, and now we will just make the most of the six remaining days of testing before the first race to make some final improvements to the new M1."
The audience was then treated to a spectacular video of the team and riders, before Rossi and Edwards mounted the stage together for their part in the day. "This new bike is really beautiful!" exclaimed Rossi, who this season aims to win a sixth consecutive World Championship title. "It's exciting to be starting another season with Yamaha; these last two seasons together with them have probably been the best of my career. It's also nice to be with Colin again, we're very close in our team. The new M1 is already very good and we've been working very closely to develop it with Yamaha. Yamaha has done a very good job. This year I have many new young adversaries who will be challenging me, and I think there is going to be some spectacular racing!"
His team-mate Edwards, seeking to improve on his fourth-place in the championship last year, said "I really like the new bike design, it looks really great. I had the retro-style number five like this on the bike at Laguna Seca last year and I've used it again for this year. The new bike in general has been fantastic throughout the winter tests, I'm really excited. Yamaha has done a great job and everything about it feels better than last year. I honestly can't wait to get back on board this week in Barcelona, we have a few things to work on still but we're in good shape. My promise for the year is to win at least a few races and have a one-two for the Camel Yamaha Team at the end of the year!"