DRIVE M7 ASPAR TEAM PRESENTS 2014 LINE-UP AT SEPANG
Spanish outfit unveils its most international line-up yet at Sepang, with two former World Champions and new Malaysian energy drink DRIVE M7 on board as title sponsor
With the second test session of the MotoGP preseason due to kick off tomorrow at Sepang, Malaysia, the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team took the opportunity to officially unveil its 2014 project at the home of its new title sponsor in a special ceremony this evening. Pulling back the covers to reveal the new silver and fluorescent green colours that will adorn their Honda RCV-1000R machines in 2014 were the team's new riders, Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama.
With an American and Japanese rider, both of them World Champions, and a new title sponsorship agreement with Malaysian energy drink brand DRIVE M7, part of the Mutiara Motors Group, the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team is branching out further into the international market. The deal between the team and its new sponsor is for three years, signifying a long-term vision that both parties are sure will prove to be a great success. The presentation, which got underway at around 4pm, was attended by the Malaysian Minister of Turism and Culture, Dato Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Tan Sri Abdul Aziz.
Jorge Martínez ‘Aspar’ was the first to take to the stage, introducing the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team's all-new rider line-up. Later, DRIVE M7 President Datuk Ahmad took over the microphone before handing it to Minister Dato Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Tan Sri Abdul Aziz. Each of them spoke enthusiastically of the great optimism and synergy created by this new relationship and highlighted their common ideas and objectives. After the event itself there was a press conference and refreshments.
Jorge Martínez ‘Aspar’: “We are excited to be here at the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team presentation in Malaysia. This event is the confirmation of another important phase in the history of our team. We are broadening our horizons, continuing our growth and establishing ourselves firmly on the international plane. It is very important for us to have reached an agreement with DRIVE M7, a huge company that forms part of the Mutiara Motors Group and that has a global vision. In terms of our sporting project we have switched manufacturers from Aprilia to Honda and we have signed two World Champions in the shape of Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama to represent us in MotoGP. We are all very excited about this new project and we face a big challenge over the next three years. Both DRIVE M7 and the Aspar Team have similar ideas and thoughts, which is why we get on so well. The DRIVE M7 family have a very similar perspective to us, with a constant desire to grow and develop. I hope that this is the start of a long and successful relationship, both in terms of our sporting achievements and in promoting the name of DRIVE M7 and the Aspar Team around the world.”
Datuk Ahmad: “The collaboration with Aspar Team is a significant move in our participation in the motorsports arena and a major step in introducing and promoting our brand, DRIVE M7 globally. Our participation in motorsports dated back to early 2000 when we first sponsored Japan Super GT team. This is our first foray into MotoGP and we are here to stay for a long term. We are indeed proud to be in association with a renowned Aspar Team, an organization with values and objectives that are common and similar to ours. It prides us also as the beginning of the collaboration coincides with our country “Visit Malaysia Year 2014” tourism promotion.”
Nicky Hayden: “It is a new season and a new challenge for me but I am healthy and very excited. I have been very impressed with Mr Aspar and his professionalism - it’s clear he really wants results and is behind all his guys. I think it’s great we have a new sponsor and one of such a high level as Drive M7. Not only is it good for us, I think it’s good for all of MotoGP to see new sponsors coming from different parts of the world and this can be great for the future. The challenge of competing as an open bike and the new rules will be interesting to see how it all plays out and if it really will become the future of MotoGP. The first test we were not as competitive as we need to be but I trust HRC will help us very soon and find us more power. I must get everything out of this new test to learn the bike and the new team and be ready to for the opener in Qatar. I have great fans and great sponsors and hope I can make them proud this year.”
Hiroshi Aoyama: “I am really happy to be joining the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team. It's a very professional team with a highly motivated group of staff who work hard every day to achieve the best possible results. I am looking forward to starting e new season with my new team and also with a new and important sponsor like DRIVE M7. Hopefully this new season that is about to start can be an enjoyable one for every single person connected to this project. We have a new challenge this season in the shape of the Open category, which is the future of MotoGP. 2014 will be an interesting and important season for us. I have a great team, a great bike and direct support from Honda, so I am sure it will be a good year.”
Nicky Hayden Biography
NICKY HAYDEN #69
Date of birth: 30/07/81 – Owensboro – Kentucky – USA
First Grand Prix: Japan Grand Prix MotoGP - (2003)
First win: US Grand Prix MotoGP – (2005)
Last win: US Grand Prix MotoGP – (2006)
First pole: US Grand Prix MotoGP – (2005)
First fastest lap: MalaysianGrand Prix MotoGP – (2005)
First podium: Pacific Grand Prix – (2003)
Victories: 3 (MotoGP)
Poles: 5 (MotoGP)
Fastest laps: 7 (MotoGP)
Podiums: 28 (MotoGP)
Best championship finish: MotoGP World Champion 2006
Total GP appearances: 185 (MotoGP)
1999: AMA Supersport Champion (Honda)
- Grand National Dirt Track Rookie of the Year
2002: AMA Superbike Champion (Honda)
- Winner Daytona 200
- Winner Springfield TT alongside his brothers
2003: 5th in MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
- MotoGP Rookie of the year
2004: 8th in MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
2005: 3rd in MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
2006: MotoGP World Champion (Honda)
2007: 8th in MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
2008: 6th in MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
2009: 13th in MotoGP World Championship (Ducati)
2010: 7th in MotoGP World Championship (Ducati)
2011: 8th in MotoGP World Championship (Ducati)
2012: 9th in MotoGP World Championship (Ducati)
2013: 9th in MotoGP World Championship (Ducati)
It is always a pleasure to bump into Nicky Hayden. With a traditional American handshake or salute, the 'Kentucky Kid' instantly makes you feel at ease, his wide smile always emanating happiness and appreciation. Hayden is as honest as they come, built with a steely determination that demands the respect of his peers and his rivals. His main passion is for his family and their main passion is for motorcycles; both his father Earl and his mother Rose competed in local championships in their youth.
Earl would often quip that he had been looking for a female racer so that the racing genes would be pure in the next generation but his jest could hardly have been closer to the truth as all three of his sons - Tommy, Nicky and Roger – would go on to become professional racers whilst his daughters all also rode (eldest sister Jenny raced too). Nicky threw his leg over a bike for the first time at the age of three, on a purpose-built circuit on the family property, and within two years he was competing in local competitions. As one member of 'Earl’s Racing Team,' Nicky would join his brothers as they toured the fairgrounds of Kentucky, racing his 50cc dirt-track bike from 1985 to 1988.
Following in the footsteps of eldest brother Tommy, in 1989 Nicky began to compete on the national amateur AMA dirt-track scene, turning pro when he reached his sixteenth birthday in 1997. Even though he specialised in dirt-track he was already an expert on the tarmac too, having alternated between the two ever since getting his first taste of a road racing machine when he rode a Yamaha YSR 50cc at a Texas club event in 1990. In 1994 he left the USA for the first time to contest two races in Spain as part of the Open Ducados 125cc series, overseen by American racing hero Wayne Rainey.
Nicky contested his first races as a professional road racer in the AMA Supersport series on a Suzuki, whilst continuing to race in the AMA flat track series. Between 1997 and 2002 he won almost everything before him on the tarmac and on the dirt, taking the Grand National Dirt Track Rookie of the Year title in 1999, becoming the youngest ever AMA Supersport Championship that same season. There was another historic double to celebrate in 2002, when he was joined on the podium by his two brothers after winning the Springfield TT and became the youngest ever AMA Superbike Champion.
The 2002 season also saw Nicky claim victory in the prestigious Daytona 200, capturing the attention of MotoGP team bosses and allowing him to fulfil his childhood dream. Honda drafted him straight into their factory team and, as team-mate to World Champion Valentino Rossi, the young American did not disappoint, clinching the 2003 Rookie of the Year title with podiums at Motegi and Phillip Island. After an injury-hit 2004, the 2005 season saw Hayden mature into a top class MotoGP talent with his first victory coming in his home race at Laguna Seca, a win he would repeat one year later on his way to the title. That famous second USGP victory was one of ten podiums that season, which included another win at Assen, and were enough to see Hayden crowned MotoGP World Champion after a dramatic final round at Valencia that saw title rival Rossi, now with Yamaha, crash out.
Nicky Hayden is the latest in a long line of legendary Americans to have won the MotoGP World Championship but after two difficult years that followed his title success, which coincided with the arrival of 800cc machines, he made the switch to Ducati. Nicky's professionalism and determination has continued to shine through and he remains one of the most recognisable and popular faces on the grid. His years of dedication at the top level have not dimmed his enthusiasm for racing but he can barely contain his excitement at a return to Honda, the factory that his idol Bubba Shobert rode for, as he joins up with the Aspar Team for 2014.
Even though he now has a house in California and spends much of his time during the summer on the roads of Europe, home is where the heart is for Nicky Hayden and he still lives in Kentucky, where he returns whenever he has the opportunity to train and spend time with his two brothers. Despite being a World Champion and one of the most famous names in international road racing, Nicky has never lost the humility and humour of that Owensboro boy who first came to Europe to race motorcycles all those years ago. His passion is for hard work, his family and his fans, and of course for his beloved Kentucky Wildcats and the Lakers.
NICHOLAS PATRICK HAYDEN #69
WEIGHT: 67 kg
HEIGHT: 173 cm
PLACE OF BIRTH: Owensboro (Kentucky)
FAVOURITE WOMAN'S NAME: Jackie
FAVOURITE BOOK: Gary Nixon
FAVOURITE FILM: Days of Thunder
FAVOURITE ACTRESS: Jackie Marin
FAVOURITE ACTOR: Denzel Washington
FAVOURITE SONG, SINGER, MUSIC: I like all kinds of music but especially rap. Jay-Z.
FAVOURITE CAR: I prefer trucks
FAVOURITE MOTORCYCLE: A MotoGP bike
YOUR FIRST BIKE: 50ccDirt track
FAVOURITE FOOD: American home cooking
FAVOURITE ANIMAL: Deer
FAVOURITE COLOUR: Red
FAVOURITE NUMBER: 69
FAVOURITE DAY: The day I won the MotoGP World Championship
FAVOURITE SEASON: Summer
FAVOURITE ANECDOTE: --
BIGGEST RIVAL: Every MotoGP rider is my rival
FAVOURITE PLACE FOR A HOLIDAY: Florida beach (USA)
SEA OR MOUNTAIN: Sea
FAVOURITE OTHER SPORT: Basketball, cycling and supercross
FAVOURITE SPORTSMAN: Michael Jordan
TV, RADIO, NEWSPAPERS OR INTERNET: Television
A MOMENT TO REMEMBER: In 2002 I raced the Dirt Track TT at Springfield and my two brothers and I took the three spots on the podium. It was the first time it had ever been done by three brothers. It was a historic moment and really nice.
A MOMENT TO FORGET: I have no regrets. I have learned a lot from life's lessons.
3 THINGS TO TAKE TO A DESERT ISLAND: A phone, a motorcycle and a boat
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN IF YOU WEREN'T A RIDER?: Something to do with motorcycles for sure.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?: Continue my career in MotoGP and then start a family.
YOUR HOBBIES: Basketball, cycling, dirt track and friends.
YOUR FAVOURITE CIRCUIT: Laguna Seca
Hiroshi Aoyama Biography
HIROSHI AOYAMA #7
Date of birth: 25/10/81 Ichiara/Shi – Chiba – Japan
First Grand Prix: Pacific Grand Prix 250cc - (2000)
First win: Grand Prix of Japan 250cc – (2005)
Last win: Malaysian Grand Prix 250cc – (2009)
First pole: Grand Prix of Japan 250cc – (2003)
First fastest lap: Grand Prix of Japan 250cc – (2003)
First podium: Grand Prix of Japan 250cc – (2003)
Victories: 9 (250cc)
Poles: 8 (250cc)
Fastest laps: 11 (250cc)
Podiums: 27 (250cc)
Best championship finish: 250cc World Champion - 2009
Total GP appearances: 150 (104 in 250cc and 46 in MotoGP)
1996: Kanto Regional Minibike Champion
1997: Kanto Regional Minibike Champion
1998: 2nd in 125cc Tsukuba Championship
7th in 250cc Tsukuba Championship
1999: 11th in 125cc Japanese Championship (Honda)
2000: 250cc World Championship Wildcard (Honda) – Pacific GP
2nd in 250cc Japanese Championship (Honda)
2001: 250cc World Championship Wildcard (Honda) – Pacific GP and Japan GP
8th in 250cc Japanese Championship (Honda)
2002: 250cc World Championship Wildcard (Honda) – Pacific GP and Japan GP
2nd in 250cc Japanese Championship (Honda)
2003: 250cc World Championship Wildcard (Honda) – Pacific GP and Japan GP
250cc Japanese Champion (Honda)
2004: 6th in 250cc World Championship (Honda)
2005: 4th in 250cc World Championship (Honda)
2006: 4th in 250cc World Championship (KTM)
2007: 6th in 250cc World Championship (KTM)
2008: 7th in 250cc World Championship (KTM)
2009: 250cc World Champion (Honda)
2010: 15th in MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
2011: 10th in MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
2012: 18th in Superbikes World Championship (Honda)
2013: 20th in MotoGP/CRT World Championship (FTR)
Hiroshi Aoyama is one of the most experienced riders in MotoGP, having spent half his life travelling the circuits of the world. Unlike many of his peers, however, Hiroshi was unimpressed by motorcycles as a young boy and it was his father who convinced him to give them a try at the age of five, when he rode his first pocket bike. The next step was to try riding it at a local karting circuit near the family home and soon enough watching Hiroshi ride his bike became the Aoyama family's main weekend hobby. The Chiba prefecture is well known as a hotbed of motorsport talent and there was no shortage of places for young Hiroshi to practice his new-found passion in his home region.
After racing since the age of five with pocket bikes, at fourteen 'Hiro' stepped on to minibikes to continue racing. He won the Kanto district championship in 1996 and 1997 and the following year, at the relatively ripe age of seventeen, he moved onto 125cc and 250cc machinery. In 1999 he made his Japanese Championship debut on a 125cc Honda but he quickly moved on to a 250cc that would eventually open the passage to international competition in a category he would compete in for the best part of a decade.
After gathering vital experience in the national series in 2000, 2001 and 2002, finishing as the championship runner-up twice, as well as featuring as a Grand Prix wildcard at Suzuka and Motegi, Hiro made it count in 2003 as he stormed to the quarter-litre title. However, it was his pole position and second place in the Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka that really caught the attention of the World Championship paddock and he was given his chance as a full-time 250cc GP rider for 2004.
Signed as team-mate to Dani Pedrosa in the Telefónica Movistar team with direct backing from Honda, Hiro emphasised his commitment to the cause by moving to Barcelona, where he could be close to the team and prepare for the season under the watchful eye of Team Manager Alberto Puig. His debut season saw him pick up two podium finishes in Japan and Qatar, finishing sixth overall, and he felt so comfortable in his new surroundings in Barcelona that he made it his permanent home during the season. With the perfect climate and facilities to train every day, he has been able to adapt to the European way of life and still maintains a close relationship with Pedrosa and Puig to this day.
Hiro stayed with Honda for 2005 and made gradual improvements, finishing the championship in fourth place, before being tempted to make the switch to the KTM factory team for the following three seasons. A constant force at the front, his results on the Austrian bike were impressive throughout those three years but there remained a sense of unfinished business with Honda. So in 2009 he returned 'home' and enjoyed an historic season, clinching the last ever 250cc World Championship title after a battle to the final race of the season with Marco Simoncelli and Álvaro Bautista.
Hiro and Honda moved up to MotoGP together but results were not as expected in 2010 or 2011 and the option arose to try his luck in the World Superbike Championship in 2012. It was a fleeting visit to the production racing series, however, and in 2013 he was back in MotoGP on a CRT bike. Next season he will be in the premier-class of Grand Prix once more and again he will be riding a Honda, joining up with the Aspar Team. Hiroshi Aoyama is known for his calm and shy nature but he opens up when he feels confident. He loves living in Barcelona, even though he is always sure to visit his native Japan during the winter break. He remains just as determined as ever to achieve his objectives, whilst enjoying the lifestyle of a worldwide traveller with an open mind.
HIROSHI AOYAMA #7
WEIGHT: 57 kg
HEIGHT: 165 cm
PLACE OF BIRTH: Ichiara/Shi - Chiba - Japan
FAVOURITE WOMAN'S NAME: Monica
FAVOURITE BOOK: ‘Life’ - Kazuo Inamori
FAVOURITE FILM: Any Bruce Lee film
FAVOURITE ACTRESS: Catherine Zeta-Jones
FAVOURITE ACTOR: Bruce Lee
FAVOURITE SONG, SINGER, MUSIC: Japanese pop
FAVOURITE CAR: BMW M3
FAVOURITE MOTORCYCLE: Honda Integra
YOUR FIRST MOTORCYCLE: Pocket - bike
FAVOURITE FOOD: Spanish 'pan con tomate' (bread with tomato) and ham.
FAVOURITE ANIMAL: Cat
FAVOURITE COLOUR: Red
FAVOURITE NUMBER: 7
FAVOURITE DAY: --
FAVOURITE SEASON: Summer
FAVOURITE ANECDOTE: My brother and I look very much alike and sometimes my nieces get us mixed up, thinking I am their father!
BIGGEST RIVAL: My brother when we raced together.
FAVOURITE PLACE FOR A HOLIDAY: Australia
SEA OR MOUNTAIN? I like both but if I have to choose I will go with the mountain.
FAVOURITE OTHER SPORT: I have only tried it a couple of times but I like horse riding. I also really like darts, athletics and cycling.
FAVOURITE SPORTSMAN: Leo Messi
TV, RADIO, NEWSPAPERS OR INTERNET: Internet
MOMENT TO REMEMBER: When I won the 250cc World Championship in 2009
MOMENT TO FORGET: The actual race at Valencia in 2009, which was so nerve racking. I ran off track halfway through the race but fortunately came back to finish and win the title.
3 THINGS TO TAKE TO A DESERT ISLAND: A motorcyle, food and my friends.
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN IF YOU WEREN'T A RIDER?: I don't ever think about that.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?: Fighting to be the top rider in the new Open Category in MotoGP.
YOUR HOBBIES: Cycling and darts.
FAVOURITE CIRCUIT: Jerez, Catalunya and Motegi