Yamaha has today confirmed that it intends to continue with Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa in its 500cc MotoGP team for 2001 with the backing of title sponsor Marlboro. The Marlboro Yamaha Team, which is wholly owned by Yamaha Motor Company, Japan, was launched in 1999 with Italian Biaggi and Spaniard Checa riding Yamaha's factory YZR500 machines. Both riders and Marlboro have exchanged letters of intent with Yamaha that they will sign one-year extensions of their agreements.
Commenting on the news, team director Lin Jarvis said: "We started this project two years ago with the aim of becoming World Champions this season. That has not happened, but we all still have a strong belief that both these riders are capable of winning the Championship and we will strive to make that happen next year.
"Our Yamaha engineers have a good understanding of the needs of both riders and are working hard to provide them with a 2001 version of the YZR that will suit their individual riding styles. This team is owned by Yamaha and there is a strong desire within the company to see it succeed.
"We are very grateful to our sponsor Marlboro that has pledged its commitment to support our project for 2001.The final details still need to be worked out in the coming weeks but the key decisions have all been made."
Four-time 250cc World Champion Max Biaggi, currently enjoying a strong finish to the 2000 World Championship after an injury-hampered first half of the year, is pleased to be able to continue the work he's started with Yamaha. "I've decided to stay with Yamaha," said the 29-year-old. "I'm very happy to remain and to keep working with this team. I have an excellent relationship with my crew and I think that the experience we've built up this year is very important for the future. That goes for Yamaha's Japanese engineers as well. We're working hard to be able to start the 2001 season much better than this year. It's important to be on course right from the beginning and to be fighting for the Championship."
Carlos Checa started the year with a string of second place finishes and was an early front-runner in the title race. His form dipped mid-season and he is now concentrating on a renewed Championship challenge with the team in 2001. "It will be a good challenge for us," said the amiable Spaniard who celebrates his 28th birthday tomorrow. "This year I demonstrated that I can fight for the Championship. We lost that chance for a variety of reasons but now we have to look forward to next year and fix the problems we've had. We' ll improve things technically and I feel excited about it.
"I'm very comfortable with Yamaha and in this team. I have a close relationship with Yamaha Japan, Yamaha Spain and with Marlboro, our main sponsor. This feeling of family is very important to me. We've grown up together over the last two years and now its time to come of age!"