“It is important that morale is high”
Continuing improvements with the Yamaha YZR-M1 machine and the enhanced performance of Michelin's latest tyres make for another promising weekend ahead as the Fiat Yamaha Team head east for the next round of the MotoGP World Championship
in Japan this weekend.
A frantic pack-up operation took place at the Estoril circuit on Sunday evening as the entire paddock prepared to make the gruelling 11,000 kilometre journey from the western tip of Europe to far east Asia, where Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards will do battle for Yamaha in the factory's home country.
The long trip to Motegi has at least been taken in buoyant mood thanks to Rossi's stunning fourth victory of the season in Portugal. The Italian kept his slim World Championship hopes alive with a breathtaking ride that saw him cut the gap to series leader Casey Stoner to 76 points with four rounds and a maximum haul of 100 points remaining.
Fiat Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio hasn't had much time to dwell on a rewarding victory for his staff at Estoril, overseeing the intense logistical operation demanded by back-to-back races on opposite sides of the globe. Nevertheless, he is hoping the boost in morale provided by that success can overpower the jet-lag and provide the whole team with extra energy to seem them through the final four races of the season.
“It was a great reward for the team to have such a good result in Portugal, especially after all their hard work since before the summer”, explained Brivio. “Also, this is a very hard stage of the season, with a lot of races close together and a lot of travelling, so it is important that morale is high.”
“With Valentino we will just be trying to keep going in the same way, we expect our rivals to be very strong there but we know that if we can give Valentino the right package then he can fight with them. Colin had a bad race in Portugal so he will be keen to erase that memory and hopefully he will have a better time in Japan.”
The race in Japan is followed by trips to Australia and Malaysia before the series returns to Europe for its traditionally grand finale at Valencia in Spain.
Designed in 1997 as a test venue, Motegi has ultra-modern facilities although the outstanding paddock is not quite matched by the intricacies and character of a somewhat geometric circuit layout. A bump-free surface offers good levels of grip without being particularly abrasive, but the proliferation of second gear turns, linked for the most part by mini-drag strips, means braking and acceleration are the main prerequisite to a fast lap time, and consistency the key to a good race.