Tech3 heads for 'emotional' Yamaha farewell

Tech3 to take part in final MotoGP race with Yamaha, Johann Zarco chasing top satellite honours and fifth in the world championship.
Tech3 heads for 'emotional' Yamaha farewell

After 20-years as a Yamaha supported team, Tech3 will take part in its final grand prix with the Japanese manufacturer at Valencia this weekend.

The French squad, which won the 250cc title in 2000 before stepping up to the premier-class, is to become KTM's satellite MotoGP team from 2019.

"On top of the fact that it is the last race of the season, you cannot forget that this is going to be last race for Tech3 and Yamaha after 20 seasons," said team boss Herve Poncharal.

"It has been an honour for us, a great journey, we did some fantastic achievements and although it’s our decision to move and change, this will clearly be a very emotional race for us.

"I’d like to take opportunity to thank everybody at Yamaha Motor Cooperation Japan for their support, their friendship, their dedication and their understanding on our side to allow us to have grown.

"Clearly, without Yamaha, Tech3 wouldn’t be what it is now. We helped each other for sure. I always say that success comes through stability and this is shown by our relationship with Yamaha.

"I hope both Tech3 and Yamaha will enjoy these last four days at a GP, that we’ll have fun and hopefully deliver a great result to end this unbelievable partnership on a high note.”

Tech3 has finished on the MotoGP podium with Shinya Nakano, Alex Barros, Marco Melandri, Colin Edwards, Ben Spies, Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso, Bradley Smith and current rider Johann Zarco. It's top riders' championship position is fourth, by Dovizioso, in 2012.

Although no satellite Yamaha has won a four-stroke MotoGP race, Zarco missed out by just 0.337s at Valencia last year and only 0.251s in Argentina this year.

While Zarco will race KTM RC16 machinery next season, it will be for the official factory team and Valencia thus marks his final appearance with Tech3.

A podium return at Sepang means the Frenchman is currently holding a repeat of last year's sixth in the world championship and top Independent honours.

However there is much to be decided at the final round, with Zarco tied on points with Suzuki's Alex Rins for fifth in the standings. And, although nearest satellite rival Cal Crutchlow looks set to miss the race through injury, Pramac Ducati's Danilo Petrucci is only four points behind Zarco.

“After the podium in Malaysia I arrive in Valencia with a smile on my face and happiness in my head to get another great result. My main target is to be the first independent rider and maybe a little bit more," Zarco said.

"If I can conclude the season in Valencia on the podium in front of Alex Rins and Danilo Petrucci, would mean I can also be inside the top 5 of the final Championship standings, which could be a very nice target.

"But first of all, I hope for nice weather and a decent temperature in order to gain confidence on this circuit and I think the Yamaha can work well there.

"With my guys, we found some good things during these overseas races, so we need to make the bike work well again with all we understood and in case we succeed, I’m sure we can have a great weekend.

"My fingers are crossed to finish this 2018 season as well as possible.”

Team-mate Hafizh Syahrin, who will remain with Tech3 for the KTM switch in 2019, arrives is in a less favourable position for his Rookie of the Year showdown with Franco Morbidelli.

Despite a storming ride to tenth from the back of the field at Sepang, the Malaysian is ten points behind the Marc VDS Honda rider.

“I’m looking forward to Valencia," Syahrin said. "I just want to be in front of all the rookies for the last round. I can’t wait to come to Valencia in a good position. I feel ready and hope everything goes well during this weekend.”

Morbidelli will join the new Sepang Yamaha team, which takes over the satellite M1 supply for 2019.

Tech3's Moto2 team will also switch to KTM machinery next season, while reigning Moto2 title runner-up Miguel Oliveira will partner Syahrin in the MotoGP team.