The Italy-based Yamaha Factory Racing team travelled to Madrid not only to present a new livery, but also to celebrate its strong partnership with telecommunications giant Telefónica Spain.
The two companies signed a five-year partnership agreement in the premier class of road racing in 2014, underlined with Movistar becoming the team‘s title sponsor. In the past four years, Yamaha and Telefónica Spain‘s shared values and passion for innovation laid the groundwork for success, resulting in a MotoGP Triple Crown in 2015 and the MotoGP Team‘s Title in 2016.
However, the focus of the 2018 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Presentation event was set on celebrating the start of the new season, rather than commemorating past achievements. Eager to take on the challenge to push the limits even further in 2018, the two companies unveiled a new team logo, that shows Movistar‘s new colour scheme, with a light blue “M”.
Masters of Ceremonies, Izaskun Ruiz and Dylan Gray, presented the launch event and soon welcomed the new Yamaha Motor Racing President andGeneral Manager of Motorsports Development Division, Kouichi Tsuji, to the stage for a Q&A session. He shed light on how Yamaha is working on pushing the limits, before it was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director Massimo Meregalli‘s turn to discuss the 2018 preparations and how the team aims to rise to the challenges ahead.
The next guest speakers were nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and former Moto3 World Champion Maverick Viñales, who are no strangers to pushing boundaries and breaking records.
Rossi is known to be Yamaha‘s most successful rider and is determined to further confirm his status in 2018, as he enters a sixth consecutive year with Yamaha Factory Racing since his return to the manufacturer in 2013. Moreover, 2018 will be his 13th season with the team since he first joined Yamaha in 2004.
Though the Italian had a strong start to the season last year – and briefly led the championship standings – two injuries sustained in separate incidents ultimately cost him a chance to fight for the 2017 title. Despite these misfortunes, the 38-year-old Italian secured six podiums in total, including a brilliant race win in the Netherlands. With a total of 115 Grand Prix victories written to his name, this year he‘ll be gearing up once more for his quest to secure a tenth World Title.
Viñales made waves on his first year with the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team. He joined the Factory Yamaha crew after gaining two years of experience in the premier class and was quick to make a name for himself as one of the key protagonists, securing third place in the overall rider standings in his first year with Yamaha.
The 23-year-old had a dream start to the 2017 season, taking two race wins at the opening rounds in Qatar and Argentina. He followed it up with a win in France to secure Yamaha’s 500th Grand Prix victory. Though the remainder of the season was more challenging for the Spaniard, he still graced the podium a total of seven times last year, which only left him hungrier to compete at the front of the MotoGP field again during the 2018 season.
Finally, the President of Telefónica España, Luis Miguel Gilperez, was also put in the spotlight towards the end of the 2018 team launch ceremony. He further highlighted the close bond between Yamaha and Movistar, before it was time for the main event.
During the unveiling of the 2018 Yamaha YZR-M1, a new soundtrack, created by Yamaha Motor Racing Srl and Yamaha Music Europe GmbH – Branch Italy, set the scene of the action to come this racing season. Rossi and Viñalesproudly presented their new bikes with a refreshed livery. Besides a revamped Movistar logo, the “Movistar M” design element on the bike is now white, making it blend in perfectly with Yamaha Factory Racing‘s aesthetics.