Dec 4, 2002
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From a press release issued by Yamaha:<BR><BR>Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd and Team d'Antin are pleased to announce the continuation of their partnership in MotoGP World Championship. The new agreement will see the Yamaha d'Antin four-year amalgamation in the premier class, which began in 1999, extended for 2003 with a further option for 2004. The Yamaha-satellite team will contest the 2003 MotoGP season as a single Yamaha entry with new rider signing Shinya Nakano, aboard a factory-supported 2003 spec four-stroke YZR-M1.<BR><BR>Nakano, the 2001 MotoGP ‘Rookie of the Year', recently signed a one-year agreement with the Spanish-based team and is looking forward to continuing the form he discovered in the closing stages of the 2002 season after switching to the race winning M1 four-stroke in Sepang, Malaysia. The 25-year-old, who made his GP debut as a wildcard rider in the 1998 Suzuka GP250 World Championship round, will be the fifth and final full-time MotoGP four-stroke Yamaha entry in the 2003 line-up.<BR><BR>Nakano's international GP history began in 1999 when the Japanese star finished fourth in the 250cc championship, aboard the Yamaha YZR250 – claiming ‘Rookie of the Year' in the process. He then progressed through to challenge for the title the following year, only to miss out on the number one plate by a mere 0.014 seconds to his own Yamaha teammate, Olivier Jacque, at the final round. Natural progression saw Nakano move into the MotoGP class in 2001, aboard the YZR500, clinching his second ‘Rookie of the Year' title, and a solid fifth place in the final all-two-stroke championship.<BR><BR>Former D'Antin Team rider Norick Abe, who has played the role as lead rider with Luis d'Antin owned outfit since its inception and has had a history with Yamaha in the premier class dating back to 1995, will continue with the Yamaha camp as a dedicated YZR-M1 test and development rider. Although the final program is still to be confirmed it is likely that Abe will also contest selected rounds of the 2003 championship, as an official Yamaha factory wild card entry aboard the YZR-M1.<BR>