The Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR500 twin-seater made its final European appearance of 2001 at Valencia this morning, giving three more VIPs the most thrilling chauffeur ride in the world.
The 285kmh machine– ridden by former 500 GP winner Randy Mamola– made three outings, with Michelin Group CEO Edouard Michelin, TV personality Lorenzo Mila and popular film actor Jorge Sanz.
Monsieur Michelin, making his first visit to a bike GP, was astounded by the ride, which gave him a first-hand feeling for the amazing powers of his company’s bike-racing slicks.
"I was worried how far we were away from the limit" said Michelin, a keen sports car driver who will later witness his company’s 50th consecutive 500 Grand Prix victory. "I’ll never, ever forget that ride, and my thanks to everyone who made it possible. You know that the racing world is a big family and Michelin feel we are a part of this family."
After the ride, Mamola added "I’m glad we’ve finally got the Michelin man on the bike." To which Michelin replied "I’ll have to put on some weight before I look like the Michelin man"
Keen biker Sanz, who counts many of Spain’s GP stars as personal friends, said "Impressive, and sooo fast But I felt very secure– the leaning was the most spectacular thing. I found the braking very tiring, on the last lap I had to hold my elbows against my knees to secure myself."
Even TV personality Lorenzo Mila found himself stuck for words, initially, at least. "I have no words" he said. "Really it’s just the way he accelerates and changes gear. It’s like vertigo. The changes of direction were also very impressive. My arms wouldn’t have lasted much longer, he was braking so late and so hard. You can’t think because everything happens so fast. I was shouting inside my helmet"
The twin-seater YZR500 was introduced to GP racing last year to give celebrities and VIPs a fascinating insight into the high-speed world of 500 GP racing. The machine is virtually identical to those raced by Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa. Mamola will give the bike another outing at next month’s Australian GP.