“I am confident that we can be competitive”
Tech3 Yamaha boss Hervé Poncharal was pleased with finishing fourth in the 2008 Teams´ World Championship and is hoping for more success in the coming 12 months.
Sticking with the same rider line-up of Colin Edwards and
James Toseland in 2009 Poncharal has high hopes for his Tech3 Yamaha team next season.
In the mean time there are matters such as new tyres, a swap in team personnel, further improving rider competitiveness and finding a title sponsor to keep him busy over the winter, as the Frenchman explained…
What are your thoughts on moving over to Bridgestone tyres for the new season?
“I think everybody was pushing to go to a one-tyre rule, when you see what happened this year. Although, for our team we had some great moments with one pole position and two podiums thanks to Michelin´s support. Anyway, I think it will help us to work on things from a safety point of view because it will freeze some development and that was the request of most of the riders. I think also on cost it will also help us because we have already seen after the Valencia Grand Prix that there will be less testing during the winter and less testing after the racing.
With what we are going through at the moment in terms of the financial situation altogether this is going to help us, firstly to spend less and second to have a better show. The grid should be a lot closer as everybody is going to be on the same specification with the same allocation of tyres.
Also it will help the riders´ confidence because everyone has the same material and there will be no excuses.”
What do you feel your riders need to do individually in order to improve their respective competitiveness levels ?
“Firstly, I want to say that I am quite happy with what we did in 2008 because thanks to Colin and James we finished fourth in the Teams´ championship, we were the best `independent´ team and were in front of two factories. The main point now is that on 26th-27th November we will be in Jerez to work for the first time on the new specification Bridgestone tyre and this will be the main focus of that test. From February we will work on the new ´09 bike and this will be like all winter tests, to understand the new bike, to work with the new tyre manufacturer and to work with the team.”
“We have been trying to modify our organisation little bit and Gary Reinders who was working with Colin is now going to be James´ crew chief. Guy Coulon who was looking after James is going to be with Colin. Sometimes you don´t need big changes but I think this is going to help both riders to keep their motivation and maybe to have a fresh pair of eyes on how to set up the bike and prepare for the races.”
“On Colin I would say that he has been really fast in qualifying so he has shown that he has got the speed. Perhaps if there is something he needs to work on it is the first three or four laps of races and being a bit more aggressive. James has a lot of that (aggression) but he needs to work on preparing for races better, maybe putting more effort on race set-up and that should be positive because we have already seen that James is very aggressive and is not afraid of touching other riders on the track, so I think that that is what we need. Aggression and motivation are required and James has a lot of those two qualities.”
Is Colin happy about the swap in crew chiefs given the strong relationship he had with Gary Reinders? Can he be more competitive working with Guy Coulon?
“We have to wait and see, because we can´t predict the future. For me the most important thing will be understanding the new tyres that we have. I think both Colin and James are really happy with the change of crew chiefs. It is good to have stability but it is always good to have something new and not to fall asleep. In Valencia after the race we had a meeting with Colin, his new crew chief and the team that he will keep and then we did the same later with James and both of them seemed really fired up, really happy.”
“On James´ side he has told me that working with a new crew chief, having learned all the tracks, having the same tyres as his opponents, he has everything he needs, he is a proper MotoGP rider and will have no more excuses next year.”
“Both James and Colin are really happy with all this and we will see. The opposition will for sure be even stronger, with Andrea Dovizioso in a stronger team and with Jorge Lorenzo having a year of MotoGP experience. A lot of things will be new next year, we don´t know where we are going to be, but I am confident that we can be competitive and fight for a top five position in the championship. That is our target and that is the same for both of our riders.”
Are you actively seeking sponsorship at present and if so how is it going?
“As we all know the financial situation around the world is not very rosy at the moment so for sure this is not something that is helping the negotiations. Whilst this is factor all the partners we had in 2008 have been renewing, at least verbally, their support for next year. But we have been talking to some companies that could come as a title sponsor, though nothing has been agreed yet. Nonetheless I am confident that we will have the material and the financial means to support our riders at the best level, to fight at the front.´ `I don´t want to say too much about this because it is like racing where nothing is done until you cross the finishing line. We are quite advanced in a few negotiations. Some of them are with a potential title sponsor that we were lacking this season but we can´t talk too much yet.”