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Yamaha press releases on our motor sports racing activities

Everts enjoys perfect season kickoff Feb. 16, 2006

With a second place and two heat wins Stefan Everts claimed victory for the third consecutive time in the Starcross di Mantova race in Italy. Riding in perfect harmony with his new aluminum framed Yamaha YZ450FM, the nine times world champion from Belgium opened the 2006 motocross season in the best possible way.

In the first heat Everts had to give in to Sebastian Tortelli, the French MX250 world champion of 1998 who returned from the US to campaign the 2006 MX1 world championship. In the other two heats Tortelli experienced bike trouble and could not prevent Everts claiming the other two heat wins. Other then Tortelli in the first heat there were no other riders to really challenge Everts. Unfortunately this also the case for Stefans teammate Cdric Melotte who was not yet able to go all the way, due to a wrist injury that needs more time to heal.

Stefan Everts obviously was pleased with his season opener; It is always nice to start the season with a victory. It was a pleasant surprise because it was impossible to tell how the race would go by looking at the qualifying results. Saturday and this morning I did not have a very good feeling with the track because the surface was still frozen, which makes the racing rather unpredictable. In the end everything went okay, the track started to soften throughout the day and thankfully my bike was in excellent condition. We will have to do more racing to find the perfect setting for the machine, but we are progressing well.

On the other hand Stefans teammate Cdric Melotte needs to further nurture his injury to arrive at full race fitness; After my wrist operation in September I started practicing again mid December with the bike, but still I have too much pressure on my wrist. I have tried some pain killers and it did feel better, but I do not prefer to take any unnecessary risks, I simply have to think of the world championship. I will try to enter the international race in Pernes-les-Fontaines or Hawkstone Park to see how my wrist will hold.

The Italian David Philippaerts won the MX2 class, while Yamaha supported rider Aigar Leok (Van Beers Yamaha) made an impressive start of the year, classifying fifth overall, with fifth, sixth and seventh position heat finishes.
Davide Guarneri of Yamaha Team Ricci ended the day dramatically by crashing at the start of the third heat in a spill with several other riders. Two retirements of teammate Kenneth Gundersen were a disappointment for the Norwegian, who qualified in first position.

Kenneth Gundersen has positive outlook on the season ahead, despite the fact that he and his bike are not yet 100%:I am satisfied with this first race, considering the fact that we had some problems with the front fork. Even though we still have to improve things further I am still very happy with the performance of the YZ250F. My riding technique has to further improve too over the next few months, but this should come when my knees get better, at the moment they are not yet 100% recovered. The world championship start is still two months away and I expect to be completely ready by then.

Despite crashing in the third heat Davide Guarneri was able to make a good judgment of his bike and competitors; I wanted to race here to have a good practice session before the start of the season and to judge the level of my competitors. We rode with the new suspension and other new parts on the bike and I'm rather pleased with my results. I expected that the others would go a bit faster, but I found it quite easy to match the pace of the leaders. It was a shame I crashed during the start of the third heat, brake problems forced me to retire from the race.

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