MOTOGP: Qatari GP
Lorenzo and Spies set for Qatar
The Factory Yamaha Racing duo are eager to get out on track for the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.
The 2010 season saw Lorenzo firmly cement his place as one of the Grand Prix elite. The 23 year-old Mallorcan stormed through the 18-round season to take an impressive nine race wins and a premier class record breaking 383 point tally on his way to title victory. The Yamaha Factory rider has started every MotoGP race in his premier class career at Qatar from the front row, taking a pole position in his 2008 MotoGP debut and has always finished on the podium, although a race win has so far eluded him.
Spies, the Texan Factory newcomer, is no stranger to Yamaha having taken the Yamaha Factory Superbike to victory in the 2009 World Superbike Championship. He went on to impress in his debut season in MotoGP in 2010 on the Tech3 Yamaha M1, securing sixth in the Championship standings as the highest placed non-factory rider, scoring two podiums and a dazzling pole position start for his home race at Indianapolis in the process. The 2010 season opener at the Losail circuit saw the 25 year-old push on from a fourth-row grid start position to finish the race in fifth, just 3.9 seconds from the race winner.
The pre-season winter testing has seen both riders perform strongly, posting impressive race pace as they set up their 2011 M1s for what will be the final year of the 800cc MotoGP class. The updated 800cc machines have made advances in grip level, stability and electronics to give Lorenzo and Spies the best possible weapons in their fight for the chequered flag.
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing Rider: "The new season is here and I'm very proud to be able to start it with the number one. Our bike has been better and better from the first test but there is still room for improvement. Winning the World Championship last year was a great achievement but everybody starts the same this weekend with no points and the competition is very tough. I have been training very hard over the winter to be ready and I am excited to start."
Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Racing Rider: "It feels really good to be here as part of the Factory Team, we worked really hard last year to get here. I've got a great crew around me, I've worked with most of them before in different teams so it's almost like a reunion! Everything has gone really smoothly in the tests, I have to say I'm more of a racer than a tester so I'm pretty impatient now to get to it and see what we can do."
Wilco Zeelenberg, Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager: "We are now in the same position as we were here in Qatar last year, starting with zero Championship points. Last season Jorge started injured and was recovering from his broken thumb so the pressure was not on him. Now he is World Champion and physically fit but his rivals have been extremely fast during the winter tests, so to me it means again he can start without the pressure from being the favourite!"
Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director: "This is a very exciting moment for Yamaha Factory Racing, we are starting this season at a special time marking the 50th Anniversary of Yamaha's involvement in Grand Prix racing. We have two very strong riders, the reigning World Champion and the 2010 Rookie of the Year on board so we have the potential to do very well. I am confident that come Sunday everybody will perform to their best. The competition this year is possibly the highest it has been in MotoGP for some time so it will be a tough season, however our expectations are high. Whilst we prepare for our first race, our thoughts and sympathies are also with those in Japan following the terrible recent tragedy."