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Feb 19, 2001

Tobacco Firms Rush To Sponsor World Championship Motorcycle Teams While They Can

Copyright 2001 Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>The arrival of West and Gauloises as team sponsors means that the majority of top 500cc Grand Prix teams have cigarette backing for the 2001 season. West has come into GPs with the Honda Pons outfit of Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi, while Gauloises is title sponsor of the Tech 3 outfit that runs Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano. Those brands join Yamaha's long-established title sponsor Marlboro, which has backed Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa since 1999, and men like Kenny Roberts the elder, Eddie Lawson, Freddie Spencer and Wayne Rainey in the more distant past.<BR><BR>Last year West sponsored the now-defunct Yamaha World Superbike team and the company also backs the McLaren F1 car outfit. Gauloises was big in bike racing from the 1970s to the early 1990s, enjoying a long involvement with the French Yamaha importers Sonauto. Gauloises came back into GPs last year as associate sponsor of the Red Bull WCM team, an association that has continued into 2001.<BR><BR>Spanish cigarette brand Fortuna has also raised its involvement, buying space on the fairings of the Telefonica Movistar Suzukis of American Kenny Roberts and Spaniard Sete Gibernau, as well as the Telefonica Movistar Honda 250s of Daijiro Katoh and Emilio Alzamora. Fortuna is also a personal sponsor of former 500cc World Champion Alex Criville. And another brand, L&M, has its livery on the fairings of the works Derbi 125s and also on those of Ducati World Superbike man Ben Bostrom.<BR><BR>Tobacco sponsorship is due to be banned in Europe from the end of 2006.<BR><BR>