Andy Rixon, Kel Edge
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You might remember in our race reports in Pit Lane News from last season, we voiced suspicions that something was amiss it the relationship between the Yamaha MotoGP team and Gauloises when the team, its bikes and riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards showed up at the Laguna Seca round in the retro American Yamaha Yellow/Black Molly graphics to celebrate Yamaha's "50th Anniversary" without any sponsorship reference to sponsor Gauloises on the bikes, riders or in press releases.
Valentino Rossi at Laguna Seca 2005 in Molly Yamaha USA colors.
The suspected conflict between the Yamaha Factory MotoGP and Altadis/Seita continued to boil in the following months of the season as World Champion Valentino Rossi made ongoing comments voicing his displeasure with cigarettes and the sponsorship of the Yamaha MotoGP team by a cigarette company. That he hoped the team would run without cigarette spponsorship in 2006.
The nail in the coffin (pardon the anti-smoking pun) was a press release which Yamaha issued on December 12th (see below) stating it had ended its sponsorship agreement with Altadis/Seita. The press release was blatant in not offering any thanks to Altadis/Seita for its past 3 years of sponsorship support. There was obviously no love or appreciation from Yamaha. Hardly professional.
The screws continued to turn on January 9th when Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. announced the start of a new partnership with JT International (JTI), a subsidiary of Japan Tobacco Inc., whose brand CAMEL will become the new title sponsor of Yamaha's Factory MotoGP Team for 2006. Obviously politics (and bank accounts and the financial reality of running a MotoGP effort) were in play as the Japanese motorcycle company realigned itself with a Japanese tobacco company.
We now wait to see how this legal conflict will play out between Altadis/Seita and Yamaha of Japan. Unfortunately, Yamaha team rider and World Champion Valentino Rossi is left with a little egg on his face having bad mouthed cigarette sponsorship last year, and now having to finish out the final season of his MotoGP career with another cigarette sponsor.
Yamaha MotoGP Announces Split with Altadis/Seita Sponsorship
For more than 40 years, Yamaha has successfully participated in the Road Racing Grand Prix World Championship and it has become the leading manufacturer of the MotoGP competition.
Altadis/Seita have been sponsors of the Yamaha Factory MotoGP project for the past three seasons under both the Fortuna and the Gauloises brands, during which time the companies shared two world championship victories in the MotoGP class in 2004 and 2005.
Yamaha will announce its 2006 MotoGP program in January 2006.
Yamaha Factory Racing joins forces with JTI and CAMEL
The Yamaha Factory MotoGP Team, consisting of reigning-World Champion Valentino Rossi and his team-mate Colin Edwards, will be known as the "Camel Yamaha Team" in 2006.
Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing Lin Jarvis commented "Yamaha is very excited to enter into this new partnership with JTI. JTI has been involved in motorsport at the highest level for many years and has been an active sponsor at the top level in the MotoGP class for the past three seasons. We look forward to working with JTI to enhance the respective images of our brands and to challenge together for victory, as Yamaha enters its "next 50 years" and aims to retain its MotoGP titles in 2006."
"A new chapter in the history of Camel in motorsport is just beginning", commented Roberto Zanni, JTI's Regional President for Europe, "After three years of great satisfaction in the premier class of the World Road Racing Championship, we are today launching a new challenge for the title. Our new partnership with Yamaha, the historic, championship-winning Japanese manufacturer, will be highly motivating for us and it will be an honor to be by their side throughout the 2006 season. We share the same passion and desire for victory and, I am sure, success will not be long in coming."
The Camel Yamaha Team will begin its 2006 campaign in Sepang, Malaysia with a three-day test on 23rd, 24th and 25th January.
ALTADIS REQUESTS ARBITRATION TO RESOLVE DISPUTE WITH YAMAHA
Altadis seeks both pecuniary damages and declaratory relief with respect to particular obligations that Altadis maintains have survived the termination of the parties' contractual relationship.
Altadis has requested an urgent decision in this regard, in the nature of an interim order obligating Yamaha to refrain from collaborating with any sponsor whose products compete directly with Altadis products for the coming season. Altadis regrets that the negotiations to define the terms of a settlement that would have resolved the dispute without the need to resort to arbitration have proved fruitless.
YAMAHA DENIES ALTADIS' WRONGFUL STATEMENTS
First, Yamaha no longer has any sponsorship agreement with Altadis, as the previous sponsorship agreement was terminated in all respects for the 2006 season.
Second, Yamaha strongly denies that it has ever breached its previous sponsorship agreement with Altadis.
Third, in the absence of any agreement in force between Altadis and Yamaha, there exists no legal obligation preventing Yamaha from contracting with a tobacco sponsor or any other sponsor for the 2006 season.
Yamaha deplores the fact that Altadis' unreasonable actions have frustrated Yamaha's good-faith efforts to resolve this matter in an amicable fashion, and has seen fit to make its unmerited allegations in a public forum.
To date, Yamaha has not been notified of any Request for Arbitration from Altadis. In any event, Yamaha will defend its rights vigorously, and reserves the rights to claim both pecuniary damages and declaratory relief with respect to the wrong and disparaging statements made by Altadis and the harm wilfully caused by its frivolous conduct, for the sake of Yamaha and all of its fans and supporters worldwide who continue to support and sustain the MotoGP sport and Yamaha's MotoGP factory racing team.
New 1000cc Supermoto Racing Bikes and Series in the Works!
Our only concern with the HP2 Supermoto Kit is the finished bike cost, since the current HP2 Off Road bike retails for an already expensive $19,000. By the time you've added on a $6,000 race kit and assorted trick parts like a slipper clutch and racing silencer, the finished race bike might cost some $30,000! We'd much rather that BMW offered the HP2 Supermoto as a complete bike at the same price as the current HP2 Off Road version.
The Rep got us even more excited when he let it slip exclusively to FastDates.com that BMW and Ducati were making plans together to help start a new Supermoto1000cc class where the HP2 (below) and Ducati's new Hypermoto (above) could be raced.
For comparison, Ducati's new street legal Hypermoto is expected to retail for around $12,000 when it goes into production
Sounds great to us! In fact we've already been lobbying Ducati of Italy to produce additional hotter R1 and R2 versions of their new Hypermoto (100hp) 2 -valve DS1000 engined prototype featuring dual front brakes, and hotter 3-valve DS1000 (120hp) and 4-valve Testastretta (140hp) engines. Meanwhile, the base Hypermoto prototype has been approved for production and Ducati of Italy is pulling out all stops to get then into production hopefully by this time next year, 2007.
Together with the new BMW HP2 Supermoto and Ducati Hypermoto, don't forget there's also Aprilia's Tuono and KTM's 950 Supermoto that could join the racing class if it is open to 1000cc 4-valve engines. We could see 1000cc Supermoto racing, easily suited to American roadrace facilities and offering closer racing, possibly rivaling roadracing in America.
Below: The HP2 to go Supermoto? But a kit version would be very expensive to replace existing offroad forks, wheels, brakes and exhaust. We'd guess adding $10,000 more to the $19,000 bike cost. Much more cost effective and feasible to offer a base HP2 Street Supermoto bike ready to race.
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