The two companies signed a five-year partnership agreement in the premier class of road racing in 2014, underlined with Movistar becoming the team's title sponsor. In the past four years, Yamaha and Telefónica Spain's shared values and passion for innovation laid the groundwork for success, resulting in a MotoGP Triple Crown in 2015 and the MotoGP Team's Title in 2016.
However, the focus of the 2018 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Presentation event was set on celebrating the start of the new season, rather than commemorating past achievements. Eager to take on the challenge to push the limits even further in 2018, the two companies unveiled a new team logo, that shows Movistar's new colour scheme, with a light blue "M".
Masters of Ceremonies, Izaskun Ruiz and Dylan Gray, presented the launch event and soon welcomed the new Yamaha Motor Racing President and General Manager of Motorsports Development Division, Kouichi Tsuji, to the stage for a Q&A session. He shed light on how Yamaha is working on pushing the limits, before it was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director Massimo Meregalli's turn to discuss the 2018 preparations and how the team aims to rise to the challenges ahead.
The next guest speakers were nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and former Moto3 World Champion Maverick Viñales, who are no strangers to pushing boundaries and breaking records.
Rossi is known to be Yamaha's most successful rider and is determined to further confirm his status in 2018, as he enters a sixth consecutive year with Yamaha Factory Racing since his return to the manufacturer in 2013. Moreover, 2018 will be his 13th season with the team since he first joined Yamaha in 2004.
Though the Italian had a strong start to the season last year - and briefly led the championship standings - two injuries sustained in separate incidents ultimately cost him a chance to fight for the 2017 title. Despite these misfortunes, the 38-year-old Italian secured six podiums in total, including a brilliant race win in the Netherlands. With a total of 115 Grand Prix victories written to his name, this year he'll be gearing up once more for his quest to secure a tenth World Title.
Viñales made waves on his first year with the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team. He joined the Factory Yamaha crew after gaining two years of experience in the premier class and was quick to make a name for himself as one of the key protagonists, securing third place in the overall rider standings in his first year with Yamaha.
The 23-year-old had a dream start to the 2017 season, taking two race wins at the opening rounds in Qatar and Argentina. He followed it up with a win in France to secure Yamaha's 500th Grand Prix victory. Though the remainder of the season was more challenging for the Spaniard, he still graced the podium a total of seven times last year, which only left him hungrier to compete at the front of the MotoGP field again during the 2018 season.
Finally, the President of Telefónica España, Luis Miguel Gilperez, was also put in the spotlight towards the end of the 2018 team launch ceremony. He further highlighted the close bond between Yamaha and Movistar, before it was time for the main event.
During the unveiling of the 2018 Yamaha YZR-M1, a new soundtrack, created by Yamaha Motor Racing Srl and Yamaha Music Europe GmbH - Branch Italy, set the scene of the action to come this racing season. Rossi and Viñales proudly presented their new bikes with a refreshed livery. Besides a revamped Movistar logo, the "Movistar M" design element on the bike is now white, making it blend in perfectly with Yamaha Factory Racing's aesthetics.
The team is also pleased to announce that, after introducing slogans of Yamaha Indonesia Motor Manufacturing ("Semakin Di Depan", or "One Step Ahead" in English), Yamaha Motor Vietnam Co., Ltd. ("Go Beyond") and Yamaha Motor Philippines, Inc. ("Blue is Fast") on the M1s last year, also Thai Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. (http://www.yamaha-motor.co.th) will be featured on the bike in 2018.
Furthermore, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP is delighted that Software Cradle Co., Ltd. (http://www.cradle-cfd.com) has joined its sponsor line-up for 2018 (until 2020).
General Manager Motorsports Division, Yamaha Motor Company
"We are honoured to start the fifth year with our title sponsor Movistar - a brand that has great heritage in the MotoGP championship. We enjoyed really important and very positive moments in the first four years of our collaboration. This year we launched the new 2018 bike in Madrid again, close to the home of Telefónica Spain. From this moment on we begin a new season, with a fresh livery and an updated team logo, to highlight the union between Yamaha and Movistar as well as to mark the beginning of this new chapter.
We are very fortunate to have two incredibly talented riders in our team. Both Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales have a very strong bond with the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team. I'm sure that, together with their crews - but also thanks to the support of the sponsors, partners, and fans - they will be able to fight competitively for race wins. They can be assured that everybody involved in this project is committed to helping them achieve their goals, so we're ready to challenge together for victory in 2018."
Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing
"First of all, I want to say that I'm really sorry to have missed the team presentation event due to some health problems.
The team came to Madrid again this year, to be joined by Telefónica Spain for the unveiling of the new team colours, before embarking on the 2018 season challenge. This will be the fifth year that our team continues its partnership with Movistar. The collaboration has led to many successes in the past, including the Triple Crown in 2015 and the Team Title in 2016. We have celebrated our achievements together, but we also learned together when things didn't go our way.
During the upcoming pre-season testing we will not be sitting still either. We see the start of 2018 as chance to start afresh. We'll be taking new opportunities with both hands and have set the goal to push ourselves that bit further.
We also have a new team logo and updated livery features that visualise the strong partnership between Movistar and Yamaha. I'm sure Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi are equally impatient as the fans to get the show back on the road. At Yamaha we're very much aware that, though riders are on their own when they head out on track, racing is essentially a group effort. The riders' dedication and commitment will be matched by that of our engineers and team staff, as well as the partners and sponsors, so I'm looking forward to a competitive season."
Luis Miguel Gilpérez
President of Telefónica España
"Movistar has always been tied to sports, and especially to motorcycling, which represents one of the main axes of content and sponsorship that we've harvested big successes in.
Motorcycling is in the DNA of our brand, and we share the same values with Yamaha. Effort, discipline, overcoming challenges, commitment, teamwork and the passion for innovation - these values have laid the foundation for the success of our association.
For Movistar, MotoGP is a way of being closer to the public, the young people, and the new promising talents of the sport, who we've always supported.
We have a unique project and no other company or TV channel in the MotoGP World Championship can match with our sponsorship of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team, our sponsorship at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón, and with Movistar+'s MotoGP broadcast rights of television for Spain, which allows us to offer the races to fans, using a technology never seen before, giving a totally different user experience.
Last year was a very relevant year for Telefónica, and 2018 is shaping up to be exciting as well.
I'm sure that our successful partnership with the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team is going to be able to push the limits and obtain a great number of victories. We are with the best team, with the best riders, and we offer the best television broadcast to watch the victories of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Rider
"I had a great time today! The team presentation is special every year, also for me, because when you see your bike in the new colours, you start to feel excited. During the winter break I always miss riding my M1, and after seeing it today I want to ride it as soon as possible. I only have to wait a few more days!
Sincerely, I'm looking forward to starting the new season. Last year, I had one win and six podiums, but also some problems and injuries. We want to make our fifth year with Movistar memorable, so this year we will be pushing as hard as we can. The test in Sepang will be important. It's the first opportunity for my guys to get together this year, which will be fun, but we'll soon get serious, because we want to get an idea of our level as soon as possible."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Rider
"After more than two months of waiting, we are finally kicking off the new season. I've been working hard to prepare for the start of the new season and I'm looking forward to riding my M1 again. The bike, the new colour scheme, and also the new team logo look good, so judging by the looks of the team, we are ready to begin testing.
Last year we had a really strong start at the first few rounds and we finished third in the championship. This year we'll try to improve on what we did last year. We have a really good team, so I think it's only natural that we aim for the win in every race and ultimately for the championship title, but of course we'll only achieve this if we stay focused every session and push as hard as we can.
We'll be giving the 2018 bike a try in Sepang in a few days' time, which is also where we held our last test of 2017. We'll use that data to start the season in the best way possible. The first time you start the engine and hear the sound of your new bike is something special - it will be the sound of the new season. I'm looking forward to a great year!"