Conducted and provided by the Yamaha press office
Q. Last year Yamaha won everything! Can you see it being as successful this season?
Lin Jarvis: 2009 was probably the most successful season for Yamaha in racing for many years. We won not only in MotoGP but also in other disciplines such as Superbike, Supersport and Motocross. To be honest, it will be difficult to equal that this year because due to the economic conditions we have had to cut back in some disciplines but in MotoGP I think we have very good chances to do very similar if not the same results as in 2009.
Q. Yamaha, like other multinational manufacturing corporations, had a bad business year in 2009. How does Yamaha justify continuing to run a MotoGP team in the current climate?
LJ: 2009 was a very difficult year for many companies around the world and Yamaha was not able to escape that situation. Business is tough but of course we have to go on and we have to plan to recover the business and, in this sense, MotoGP would be very useful because MotoGP for Yamaha is the one single global activity for brand image promotion, so I think to be successful in MotoGP would be a very important, flag-waving activity for recovering the business.
Q. Has the global recession made it harder to find sponsors, even for a successful team?
LJ: I think there is no doubt that that's the case. There are many companies that have had a very difficult year and that means it is very difficult to find and to justify advertising budget. We are very fortunate that we have managed to retain all of our existing sponsors, all of our sponsors from 2009 have stayed with us and even some new ones have joined. So we are fortunate, but there is no doubt that it is tough.
Q. Can you tell us about the 2010 sponsors' line-up of the Fiat Yamaha Team?
LJ: We are fortunate to keep all of our main sponsors from the 2009 season, obviously our Title Sponsor Fiat being the most important. We also have Petronas on board, we have Packard Bell and we also have Yamalube again with us. There are some new sponsors: we have also Yamaha Indonesia, who have joined us as an additional sponsor, to promote their marketing in Indonesia, the most important market of the world for Yamaha. Iveco has joined us and also all of our technical sponsors have stayed with us. So we have a very good, a very strong sponsor pool.
Q. The Fiat Yamaha Team has some new staff members, especially within Jorge's crew. Can you introduce them?
LJ: We have two new members for this season in Jorge's crew. There is Wilco Zeelenberg, who is the new team manager. Wilco has been with Yamaha for many years, an ex GP racer and Supersport racer as well. Last year he was managing the successful world championship winning team in the Supersport class. Wilco will also be joined by Davide Marelli, who is the new data analyst for Jorge's crew. We think we have a very strong crew on Jorge's side and also we have the very strong world champion crew on Valentino's side, where everybody stays with us.
Q. Is Yamaha still supportive of the current new engine rules or would you like to see them changed in some way?
LJ: These new engine rules have been introduced after much discussion between the MSMA and Dorna. At this moment of course Yamaha as an MSMA members supports those rules. It will be interesting to see how this season goes because with only six engines you have to run the whole season and you would require tactics not only for the rider, not only for the team but also especially for the engine management way, how to run the season with six engines. Of course we have to see how it goes, we have to see whether adjustments would be needed or not for the future. In 2012 they are planning to change the capacity and that will also bring a new set of rules.
Q. Will Yamaha be supplying the same package to all of its riders this year?
LJ: We have four riders in our programme this year, two in the Fiat Yamaha Team and two in the Tech3 Team. The bikes fundamentally are the same, or very similar. The performance capacity is almost identical, but as it is normal, the factory team will always get the latest developments and the latest evolutions. The bikes will not be identical, but they will be extremely close in their performance.
Q. How do you plan to manage the competition within Yamaha this season - with Valentino and Jorge, but also Ben Spies?
LJ: It should be very interesting, the same as last year was interesting. The battle between the team-mates Jorge and Vale last year was one of the fascinations of MotoGP. I think it will be very similar in 2010. Obviously they will start the season straight away at the first race, knowing that they are two of the main candidates for the title. I believe weLJ: will manage it by the maturity of the riders. Luckily we have two very intelligent, mature riders, very professional and I believe that they will handle the situation as well as they did in 2009. With regards to Ben coming onboard, I think Ben will be in the top group, but I expect the top four will be one step ahead. I feel more the competition from Pedrosa or Stoner.
Q. What are you expecting from rookie Ben Spies in 2010?
LJ: Ben has a learning year ahead of him. I think he is ready to enter into this class, but being ready and being ready to win are two different things. Ben will have one year to learn everything about the MotoGP world, there will be no pressure on him, certainly not from Yamaha's side. I think we will see some exciting races, there is no doubt that he has the capacity to fight even for the podium, but basically step-by-step a learning year.
Q. How much of a plan is in place for him - could you envisage him moving to the factory team at the end of this season?
LJ: Ben has a two-year contract with Yamaha, so eventually in the 2012 season it is not yet determined in which team or programme he will be in. Let's see, because this year the main issues in this sport will be the contractual negotiations for all of the four top riders because both Vale and Jorge's contracts expire at the end of 2010 and it is the same for Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa. So nobody knows what will happen exactly in 2011. Our ideal vision at the moment would be to retain Vale and Jorge in the factory team and obviously Ben in the Tech3 Team.
Q. Last year Valentino said that he didn't see him and Lorenzo remaining in the same team beyond next year. Can you make any comments about Yamaha's plans for the future with regards to this?
LJ: I just heard this from other sources; I have never heard this directly from Valentino. It is really difficult to say, but I think the negotiation will probably take place in the first half of 2010. Let's see and depending on results and on riders' desire we will see at the end of 2010.
Q. How much to the future do you look? Will you be talent scouting young riders this year with a view to recruiting them in the future?
LJ: Sometimes we look to the future, as well as we did with Jorge Lorenzo: we took him very early and we signed the contract, having him with Yamaha when he was 21. At this moment we have four very talented riders in Yamaha, in fact we have three of the top five of the last season with us and with Ben joining we have four great riders. Two of them are in their thirties, with Colin being 36 and Vale becoming 31. Then we have Ben who will become 26 this year and Jorge 23. At this moment there is no urgent need to look for younger talents but of course we always keep our eye out to see if there are any hot riders coming out from Moto2 class or Superbike class.