Yamaha Motor Europe held a press conference at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola, Italy, ahead of the fifteenth round of the MXGP World Championship to officially announce its strategic racing plan and new team structure for the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship.
For the past 28-years, Yamaha's Factory set-up has been led by Yamaha legend Michele Rinaldi. A lot of the the manufacturers success can be attributed to Rinaldi's influence, not only as a Team Owner and Manager, but also as a technical partner and development leader for the Yamaha Motor Company in Japan.
In 2020, Rinaldi and his highly skilled team will focus on the research and development of Yamaha's Factory YZ450FM and YZ250FM motorcycles from the team's headquarters in Parma, Italy. Some of his best technicians will travel to all rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship to support the new Factory MXGP and MX2 teams onsite.
Rinaldi will remain at the helm of the Yamaha Factory R&D unit. He will also be a key member on the Yamaha Motor Europe Racing Committee, where his valuable knowledge, years of experience and advice will be used to guide Yamaha's future racing operations.
As a professional, passionate and results driven team that shares Yamaha's philosophy in every aspect, from the start of 2020 the Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP Official Team will become the new Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP team. The team led by Louis Vosters will be based at the spectacular Wilvo Yamaha workshop in Bergeijk, The Netherlands.
The team will retain its current contingent of riders, Gautier Paulin and Arnaud Tonus, and will be bolstered by a third rider in the form of Jeremy Seewer. All four riders currently make up the top-four in the 2019 MXGP World Championship Standings, with Seewer leading the way in second position, 37-points clear of Paulin in third, and a further 43-points clear of Tonus in fourth.
Strengthening Yamaha's upgraded racing strategy, the Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha MX2 Team owned by Hans Corvers will be morphed into the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team. The team will line-up in 2020 with the same talented riders from this season, Jago Geerts and Ben Watson.
Louis Vosters, Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP Team Owner, is happy to have achevied the goal of factory team, saying, "Since the beginning, I had the intention to build a long-term relationship with Yamaha as they have a strong strategy and a great racing philosophy that fits perfectly with our team. Like us, they also look to build strong long-term relationships, which I like. For my team to reach Factory status is an incredible feeling. I really look forward to the future, to working with the Factory bikes, and with Michele (Rinaldi) and with the Japanese technicians as well. For me, it's like a dream come true and an enormous step for us as a team."
Yamaha Motor Europe Off-Road Racing Manager, Alexandre Kowalski, said: "2020 will be an exciting year for Yamaha with two Factory teams, and with Michele Rinaldi still at the heart as the lead developer of the YZ450FM and YZ250FM bikes. I have full confidence in the teams and the riders we have going into the 2020 season. We have secured a strong line-up to challenge the MXGP and MX2 crowns, with Jeremy Seewer, Gautier Paulin and Arnaud Tonus in MXGP and Jago Geerts and Ben Watson in MX2.
"I am really happy to keep Jeremy Seewer inside the Yamaha Family for a third year. He is still really young and has already made incredible progress as he looks to finish his second season inside the premiere class as the vice World Champion. He will be strengthened by teammates Arnaud Tonus and Gautier Paulin. This year, Arnaud has had the best season of his MXGP class career, while Gautier has also been strong as the rider that is currently third in the championship standings. All three riders are inside the top-four which confirms Yamaha's strength inside the MXGP class and the capabilities of the YZ450F.
"In MX2, Jago has had an incredible second season and is booming as a youngster on the rise. Ben has also proven his skill-set many times throughout the season and fits perfectly into the MX2 team. There is a really positive atmosphere within the teams with these five riders and it is a pleasure to have them all back onboard with Yamaha for another fantastic season. I really look forward to seeing what we can achieve."
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team Owner, Michele Rinaldi, has played an important part of World Motocross in past 27 years and is now looing forward to the new roll in development.
‰ÛÏWe‰Ûªre starting a new chapter of what has been an amazing tale that started a long time ago," Rinaldi said. "When I first started out, my ambition was to start my own team, and I did this, with Yamaha since 1992. Since around 1998, I started to work directly with the manufacturer and with the development of Yamaha‰Ûªs YZ motorcycles, while managing my own team.
Over the years, my relationship with Yamaha in Japan and in Europe has developed to the point that I have been able to represent the manufacturer more than before, providing a service and support to the company. So, the story has gone from running my own team to starting our own development, and now it‰Ûªs the time for the next chapter. A time for change where we will represent the manufacturer more than ever before with a focus more on being a support network and stepping away from running my own team. This is certainly a big change, also for my staff who have made all of our achievements over the years possible, but I am optimistic for the future where together we will make the most from this new adventure.‰Û