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Watson in five-man factory Yamaha squad

Following the announcement of Yamaha Motor Europe’s reformed Racing Strategy that will see the Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP and Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha MX2 take on Factory status in 2020, it is with great pleasure that Yamaha Motor Europe N.V. can confirm that next seasons rider rostrum will consist of Jeremy Seewer, Gautier Paulin, Arnaud Tonus, Jago Geerts and Ben Watson. 

Currently making up the top-four in the 2019 MXGP World Championship with four rounds remaining, Seewer, Paulin and Tonus have put in some outstanding performances this season where between them they have accumulated 14 podium finishes in as many rounds. 

Seewer has enjoyed a second full season with Yamaha inside the premier class, where he has taken his YZ450FM to four podium finishes and is currently second position in the Championship Standings with a 37-points advantage over Paulin.

Paulin is currently third and has also accumulated four podium successes onboard his YZ450F, while teammate Tonus is 6-points further adrift in fourth position and has crested the podium on six occasions this season. 

All three riders will make up the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP team where they will line up on YZ450FM machinery determined to challenge the MXGP crown in 2020.  

Strengthening Yamaha’s 2020 Strategy, the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 team has retained its strong contingent of MX2 riders for yet another season, Jago Geerts and Ben Watson. 

Widely recognized as one of the most promising young talents in the world, Geerts is one of only three race winners this season. The 19-year-old is in his second full MX2 season and has managed to celebrate five podium finishes this year. He is currently 3-points from securing a place inside the top-three in the 2019 MX2 World Championship with four rounds remaining. 

Fresh off a maiden podium in 2019, Watson has proven he still has what it takes to challenge the crown despite facing some adversity this season. The 22-year-old is currently seventh in the championship standings after suffering from a broken hand that required surgical repair. 

Both riders are looking forward to the 2020 season where they aim to challenge a place on the top step of the podium on Yamaha’s cutting edge YZ250FM. 

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Jeremy Seewer

2020 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Rider

“It feels really good to stay with Yamaha for another season, especially after what happened to me at the end of 2017, I really feel like Yamaha helped me out of that situation and gave me an opportunity to grow into the MXGP class, and also to grow with a Factory team again. I really enjoyed my time with the Rinaldi team where I had a really good relationship with everyone there and we’ve had a good season. Going into 2020, I am happy to remain on the Factory team even though the team will be different. It will be a new chapter and I look forward to building on it.”

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Gautier Paulin

2020 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Rider

“Already this season, Yamaha and I have made some really big goals and have put together a big testing plan that we feel will get me back to the top. We have worked hard to have a good feeling on the motorcycle, which I have, and I am now third position in the championship. There have been many races where my Yamaha has been up front, and I have a lot of confidence in the brand and in my team. It feels really good to continue with Yamaha. One year moves quickly, and it is always a positive feeling to sign another year where we can improve the plan by making it stronger. Yamaha have put in a huge amount of effort to restructure the strategy for 2020, and I am very excited to move in this direction with them, and I am excited for what is yet to come.”

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Arnaud Tonus

2020 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Rider

“It feels amazing to stay with Yamaha. We have been through a lot together, many highs, many lows. Yamaha supported me at my lowest, and this year we were rewarded with many good times and a lot of success too. I am so happy to continue with the team for another season. It feels like home to me. I feel it’s very important to have the Yamaha Family behind me, and with extra support in 2020 as a Factory team. This will mean we have access to even better material, and extra technical support which will help us evolve the bike further.  I am super excited for the 2020 season!”

Louis Vosters

2020 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Team Owner

“I am really really happy with our line-up for 2020. Gautier brings a lot of experience with an amazing attitude. This season he has achieved four podiums and is third in the championship, which has been good, and what is more exciting is that we believe he can achieve even more. Arnaud has been unbelievable this year with six podium finishes and is fourth in the standings. I think in the years to come he will bring even more success. And joining Gautier and Arnaud, Jeremy who is the current runner-up in the MXGP championship will be welcomed back to our team as an exciting young rider that is constantly growing and improving. For me, having these three riders on Factory bikes will be one of the best teams in the world.” 

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Jago Geerts

2020 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Rider

“I am happy to sign with Yamaha for another season. I really look forward to 2020 where we will receive extra support from Yamaha as the Factory MX2 team, which will mean we will receive special material and added technical support. This will make a big difference in the development of the bike. I can’t wait to ride the Factory bike, and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve next season.”

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Ben Watson

2020 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Rider

“It’s great to sign a new contract with Yamaha for next season, and that they still believe in me. I have always dreamed of being a factory rider, and next year I will have the opportunity. I am already looking forward to 2020 where I hope to achieve what I know I am capable of achieving. Perhaps the most exciting thing about the new deal is that we will have Factory support and I look forward to developing the YZ250FM and taking the bike to the next level. I am really grateful for this opportunity, and I hope to make the most of it.”

Hans Corvers

2020 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team Owner

“We are happy to continue with Jago for another year, he is obviously an enormous talent and a rider that is more than capable of challenging for victories, and we are also happy to reach a new agreement with Ben for 2020. I feel both of these riders have potential to do well next season and myself, and the whole team, is happy support them in 2020.”

Yamaha Motor Europe held a press conference at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola, Italy, ahead of the fifteenth round of the MXGP World Championship to officially announce its strategic racing plan and new team structure for the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship.

With motorcycle racing of all levels being the driving force behind Yamaha’s racing strategy, Yamaha Motor Europe is constantly working to strengthen the Yamaha Racing Pyramid; a proven strategy that has been constructed to provide a smooth progression for young riders coming into the world of racing, from entry-level all the way to the top, MXGP and MX2. 

The bLU cRU program is the base of the Racing Pyramid. It supports riders that wish to take the step in their early careers by creating a bridge between national and international level racing. As a symbol of this strategic approach, Yamaha Motor Europe reached a three-year agreement with FIM Europe that will see 120 of the fastest and most promising bLU cRU riders line their YZ65, 85 and 125 motorcycles up at one of the most prestigious motocross events of the year. This year it will be the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations in Assen, The Netherlands. 

From this event, fifteen riders will progress to the bLU cRU Masterclass – five in each category, 125cc, 85cc and 65cc, where one rider in each discipline will win support from Yamaha Motor Europe for the following European Motocross Championship season. For the YZ125 bLU cRU FIM Europe Cup winner, he or she will be placed on the Official EMX125 team, which is a team that is another step higher on the racing pyramid.

Moving up the pyramid, the second step is made up of Yamaha’s Official EMX125 and EMX250 teams. These teams introduce the next generation of racers to the highly competitive world of elite motocross by racing at the European rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship. These teams cultivate and feed talent to the top two tiers of the pyramid, MX2 and MXGP.

As a result of the successful relationship between Yamaha and Monster Energy, Yamaha Motor Europe has been able to increase its commitment to the MXGP and MX2 teams. This has enabled the riders to achieve some impressive results. Since 2015, Yamaha’s top-level teams have accumulated 35 race wins, 98 podium finishes and 17 Grand Prix wins.

2020 Factory Structure

For the past 28-years, Yamaha’s Factory set-up has been led by Yamaha legend Michele Rinaldi. A lot of the aforementioned success can be attributed to Rinaldi’s influence, not only as a Team Owner and Manager, but also as a technical partner and development leader for the Yamaha Motor Company in Japan.

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. 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. 

As a professional, passionate and results driven team that shares Yamaha’s philosophy in every aspect, from the start of 2020 the Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP Official Team will become the new Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP team. The team led by Louis Vosters will be based at the spectacular Wilvo Yamaha workshop in Bergeijk, The Netherlands.

The team will retain its current contingent of riders, Gautier Paulin and Arnaud Tonus, and will be bolstered by a third rider in the form of Jeremy Seewer.  All four riders currently make up the top-four in the 2019 MXGP World Championship Standings, with Seewer leading the way in second position, 37-points clear of Paulin in third, and a further 43-points clear of Tonus in fourth. 

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. The team will line-up in 2020 with the same talented riders from this season, Jago Geerts and Ben Watson.

Paolo Pavesio

Yamaha Motor Europe Marketing and Motorsport Division Manager

“Changing a structure that has proven to work is always a challenge, however the only way to remain competitive and to be capable to evolve is to maximize the potential of all available resources. The experience Michele and his crew have developed in those decades, together  with the growth of support from Yamaha Motor Company in Japan, will secure our new Factory Team riders in MXGP and MX2 the best Yamaha MX racing package. I therefore would like to thank him, Louis and Hans for the energy they are already putting in the new organization… while of course we are all concentrated on finishing the current season as protagonists.”

Alexandre Kowalski

Yamaha Motor Europe Off-Road Racing Manager

“2020 will be an exciting year for Yamaha with two Factory teams, and with Michele Rinaldi still at the heart as the lead developer of the YZ450FM and YZ250FM bikes. I have full confidence in the teams and the riders we have going into the 2020 season. We have secured a strong line-up to challenge the MXGP and MX2 crowns, with Jeremy Seewer, Gautier Paulin and Arnaud Tonus in MXGP and Jago Geerts and Ben Watson in MX2. 

I am really happy to keep Jeremy Seewer inside the Yamaha Family for a third year. He is still really young and has already made incredible progress as he looks to finish his second season inside the premiere class as the vice World Champion. He will be strengthened by teammates Arnaud Tonus and Gautier Paulin. This year, Arnaud has had the best season of his MXGP class career, while Gautier has also been strong as the rider that is currently third in the championship standings. All three riders are inside the top-four which confirms Yamaha’s strength inside the MXGP class and the capabilities of the YZ450F.

In MX2, Jago has had an incredible second season and is booming as a youngster on the rise. Ben has also proven his skill-set many times throughout the season and fits perfectly into the MX2 team. There is a really positive atmosphere within the teams with these five riders and it is a pleasure to have them all back onboard with Yamaha for another fantastic season. I really look forward to seeing what we can achieve.

Michele Rinaldi

Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team Owner

“We’re starting a new chapter of what has been an amazing tale that started a long time ago. 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.” 

Louis Vosters

Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP Team Owner

“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. 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.”

Hans Corvers

Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha MX2 Team Owner

“We have been with Yamaha for 23 years. We started the KEMEA team in 1997, so we are nearing a 25-year celebration, but we get to celebrate a little bit earlier with the announcement that we will become the new Factory MX2 team in 2020. I am really happy with that, and I am extremely thankful to many people throughout the years who have helped the team get to this point. We have a goal of fighting for the world title, as everybody wishes for when you are racing at this level, and we are getting closer to that. I am sure that in the last 15 years it has been extremely difficult for any satellite team in MX2 to clinch the title. It is so important to have Factory support, so this transition has allowed us to take one step toward our goal and with this I hope we can challenge for the victory in 2020.”

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