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Dec 8, 2001

Marlboro Yamaha Completes Testing In Malaysia, Announces Relocation To Italy

From a press release:<BR><BR>YAMAHA CONFIRMS MARLBORO YAMAHA TEAM LINE-UP FOR MOTOGP 2002<BR><BR>Yamaha has confirmed today that the Marlboro Yamaha Team will contest the 2002 MotoGP championship with Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa riding the all-new four-stroke Yamaha YZR-M1. Yamaha continues its partnership with the team's principal sponsor Marlboro and has appointed Davide Brivio to the position of Team Director. The announcement comes at the end of the Marlboro Yamaha Team's final test of 2001 at Sepang, Malaysia. The three-day Malaysian test followed a four-day outing at Phillip Island, Australia last week. Checa and Biaggi have completed a total of over 900 laps aboard their M1 machines during the two tests and the team will now head for a well-earned break before recommencing its pre-season programme in Spain at the end of January.<BR><BR>Italian Davide Brivio was Team Manager of Yamaha's factory World Superbike Team from 1995 until its withdrawal from the series at the end of the 2000 season. The 38-year-old will now work closely with Briton Geoff Crust, who continues in his role as Team Manager, and new Technical Director Ken Suzuki, an experienced engineer from Yamaha's Motorsports Engineering Division. The project will remain under the direction of Yamaha Motor Racing B.V., the Amsterdam-based HQ of Yamaha's international racing projects headed by Managing Director Lin Jarvis. Technical control of the project is in the hands of Yamaha Motor Company's YZR-M1 Project Leader Ichiro Yoda, who was previously responsible for YZR500 engine development and the 2000 World Championship-winning YZR250.<BR><BR>The team itself will now re-locate to a new base near Monza in Italy. Jarvis explains: "Yamaha has an existing race workshop facility based next to Belgarda Yamaha [the company's Italian subsidiary] where we chose to place the new M1 four-stroke engine maintenance centre. It was a logical step to place the team at the same base with its central European location and in the heart of the motorcycle racing community."<BR><BR>Commenting on his new appointment Brivio stated "This is an exciting challenge for me and a fascinating time for Grand Prix with the switch to four-strokes. I am lucky enough to be working with two of the best riders in the world and a fantastic team. Yamaha has made a very good bike and we're working hard to be in good shape for the start of the season. Last year I spent time observing and learning the GP scene and I'm looking forward to working at the heart of MotoGP, helping Yamaha to achieve its objectives."<BR><BR>Having challenged hard for the last ever 500cc World Championship, eventually taking second place, Max Biaggi has enjoyed his first serious tests on board the YZR-M1 and is looking forward to a new era of motorcycle racing. "I am very happy to be staying with Yamaha and to be riding the M1," explained the 30-year-old, four-time 250 World Champion. "I know we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but it is pretty exciting to enter a new era on a totally new bike. I really enjoy the technical aspect of my racing, so working closely with Yamaha on this new project is very interesting."<BR><BR>Carlos Checa had a frustrating 2001 season but eventually finished on a high with his third second-place finish of the year securing him sixth in the Championship overall. The 29-year-old proved to be lightning fast on early versions of the prototype M1 during tests and can't wait to campaign the bike for real. "I really feel that I am more suited to the four-stroke," explained the Spaniard. "I really liked the M1 from the first moment I rode it and I have been very keen to race it since then. When you feel 100 percent comfortable on a bike and enjoy riding it, that's when you can really go fast."<BR><BR>Checa will also have a change to his 2001 crew, with former Showa suspension technician Antonio Jiminez taking over as crew chief from Mike Webb. Jiminez joined Checa in 2000 in a managerial capacity but was keen to resume a more technical role. Biaggi's crew remains unchanged for 2002 with experienced Italian Fiorenzo Fanali as crew chief.