Yamaha Motor Europe held a press conference today in Imola, Italy, site of the 15th round of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship, to announce a major change in their team structure for 2020.
After 28 years of running the Yamaha Factory set-up, Michele Rinaldi will be stepping down as the team owner. He will stay with the brand as part of research and development.
“In 2020, Rinaldi and his highly skilled team will focus on the research and development of Yamaha's Factory YZ450FM and YZ250FM motorcycles from the team's headquarters in Parma, Italy,” Yamaha says. “Some of his best technicians will travel to all rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship to support the new Factory MXGP and MX2 teams onsite.
“Rinaldi will remain at the helm of the Yamaha Factory R&D unit. He will also be a key member on the Yamaha Motor Europe Racing Committee, where his valuable knowledge, years of experience and advice will be used to guide Yamaha's future racing operations.”
“We’re starting a new chapter of what has been an amazing tale that started a long time ago,” said Rinaldi in a statement. “When I first started out, my ambition was to start my own team, and I did this, with Yamaha since 1992. Since around 1998, I started to work directly with the manufacturer and with the development of Yamaha’s YZ motorcycles, while managing my own team. Over the years, my relationship with Yamaha in Japan and in Europe has developed to the point that I have been able to represent the manufacturer more than before, providing a service and support to the company. So, the story has gone from running my own team to starting our own development, and now it’s the time for the next chapter. A time for change where we will represent the manufacturer more than ever before with a focus more on being a support network and stepping away from running my own team. This is certainly a big change, also for my staff who have made all of our achievements over the years possible, but I am optimistic for the future where together we will make the most from this new adventure.”
Stepping in to guide the factory team will be Wilvo Yamaha. The official team will become Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP. The team led by Louis Vosters will be based at the Wilvo Yamaha workshop in Bergeijk, The Netherlands.
"Since the beginning, I had the intention to build a long-term relationship with Yamaha as they have a strong strategy and a great racing philosophy that fits perfectly with our team,” said Vosters. “Like us, they also look to build strong long-term relationships, which I like. For my team to reach Factory status is an incredible feeling. I really look forward to the future, to working with the Factory bikes, and with Michele (Rinaldi) and with the Japanese technicians as well. For me, it's like a dream come true and an enormous step for us as a team."
The team also announced that they will retain Gautier Paulin and Arnaud Tonus (currently riding for Wilvo Yamaha) as well as current Factory Yamaha rider Jeremy Seewer in 2020.
In regards to MX2, Yamaha is also changing plans.
“Strengthening Yamaha's upgraded racing strategy, the Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha MX2 Team owned by Hans Corvers will be morphed into the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team,” Yamaha announced. The team will lineup in 2020 with the same talented riders from this season, Jago Geerts and Ben Watson.”
You can read the full PR here.