At 17.00 CET this Friday the 2011 Monster Energy Yamaha team will unveil their GP machinery in a live webcast that will appear on www.yamaha-racing.com.
The presentation to the media and fans around the globe will be the first scene of the Grand Prix of Bulgaria, the opening act of 15 in the eagerly-awaited 2011 FIM MX-GP World Championship.
This weekend will be the second year in succession that Sevlievo – with its fast, jumpy and hilly race-track housed in one of the finest set of facilities in Europe – hosts the season-opener and the venue two hours east of Sofia has been a decent reaping ground for Yamaha in the past. David Philippaerts claimed his first victory for Yamaha there in 2008 while Josh Coppins earned the top step on the YZ450FM in ’07 and ’09.
Monster Energy Yamaha has grown to encompass six riders in the MX1 and MX2 categories for 2011. Alongside Philippaerts on the fuel-injected YZ450FM is Steven Frossard while Anthony Boissiere will be steering the third black and green machine in the premier class. Philippaerts has not dropped out of the top four in his three previous championships with Yamaha and famously became Italy’s first MX1 champion in ’08.
“Sevlievo is a great track and one of the best for me,” the 25-year-old said. “The first race of the season can be difficult because we all want to win and start in the right way. If you get a good result then you want to make some momentum and get your year going. At the same time you have to keep telling yourself that it is the first one and there is so much more racing to do.
“I think the bike is better and I feel more comfortable on it. For that I have to give a big thanks to the team who have worked so hard. We have modified the engine and we are also using a different suspension system. I’ve had the chance to get the YZ450F exactly how I want it. Physically I feel very good and this gives me confidence going into the start of the season. I had a virus about two weeks ago but I’m over that now. I have been riding well in the Italian races and all the signs are good for Bulgaria.”
While Boissiere will enter his second MX1 GP campaign in Bulgaria and has experience of moto victories and podium results in MX2, it is fellow Frenchman Frossard who will remember the race as a landmark thanks to this being his first grand prix outing with Yamaha and his debut meeting in MX1 GP. The quiet but intense former MX2 GP winner has had an excellent winter of adaptation to the bigger machine and enjoyed success in France and recently captured the Italian MX1 championship for an emphatic demonstration of his potential on the YZ450FM.
“Winning the Italian championship was a good start for me and I have to say that I’ve felt very comfortable and fast on the Yamaha 450,” said Frossard. “I know this is my first season in MX1 but I have felt for a few years that I could do very well on the bigger bike and now I am excited to show what I am capable of.”
After missing out this time last year due to misfortune with a leg break while training two weeks before the season-opener, Gautier Paulin is itching to get to Sevlievo to begin his second title tilt with the factory YZ250FM. Like his countryman Frossard, Paulin also comes to Bulgaria with an Italian title on his CV – the MX2 crown – and having won a round of the French championship.
“We’ve done a lot of work in the off-season but I couldn’t be happier with the way things have gone and how the YZ250FM is developing,” commented Paulin. “We had some decent races in the last few months but now the real thing is so close. I’m probably one of the riders more desperate to get to Bulgaria because this time last year I was looking at a broken leg after so much work during the winter. Now I have a good feeling about 2011 and the grands prix cannot start soon enough.”
Runner-up to Paulin in the Italian series was former European champion Christophe Charlier who begins his second world championship on the YZ250FM. The 19-year-old Corsican, one of the most naturally talented riders on the MX2 GP stage, will again be partnered by Finland’s Harri Kullas – one of the stand-out rookies from 2010 who scored points in 29 motos from 30.
Yamaha will also be represented by the Bike it Cosworth Wild Wolf Yamaha team in the UK who will field the potent talents of Zach Osborne (fourth in the world in 2010 and British MX2 Champion) and Arnaud Tonus (seventh in the world).
Bulgaria is the first country that the FIM series will visit over the course of the next six months and until the curtain-closing Motocross of Nations on September 18th in France. Trips to Holland, USA, Brazil, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Latvia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Great Britain and Italy lay ahead.
A special video and photo gallery will be posted on www.yamaha-racing.com directly after the live online launch of the 2011 Monster Energy Yamaha line-up this Friday.