Yamaha confirm official teams for 2019 season – Watson and Geerts lead the way
Presenting a strong strategy to develop a new generation of motocross stars Yamaha Motor Europe N.V. is proud to confirm an official team in each supporting category of the FIM MXGP World Championship; MX2, EMX250, EMX125 and WMX.
Spearheading the effort and set to take Yamaha’s YZ250F to the top of the MX2 Championship, Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha MX2 has retained Ben Watson and Jago Geerts for another season. Inspired by the ‘quality over quantity’ adage, the team has transitioned from a three-rider line-up to two where they will concentrate on the talent they were awakened to during 2018.
Last year, as new recruits to the team both Watson and Geerts exceeded all expectations on what was initially expected to be a ‘learning year’. 21-year-old Watson achieved a career milestone at the MX2 Grand Prix of Russia when he stood on podium for the first time. He also finished inside the top five at 12 Grands Prix and subsequently finished fourth in the final classification after a season-long battle for the MX2 bronze medal.
Equally as impressive, Geerts had a superb rookie season complete with a podium appearance of his own at the MXGP of Latvia. The 18 year-old Belgian was awarded Youthstream’s ‘Jan de Groot award’ as the rookie of the year. He finished eighth overall in the 2018 MX2 World Championship despite missing three rounds due to injury.
Inside the European Motocross Championship, SDM Corse Yamaha EMX250 – formerly titled ‘ASTES4-TESAR Yamaha Official EMX250’ – is bound to be a force to be reckoned with. The Italy-based team mentored by former MX1 World Champion David Philippaerts will enter the fray with Gianluca Facchetti, Ruben Fernandez, Rick Elzinga and Caleb Grothues. Each rider will line up on a GYTR kitted YZ250F.
In addition, MJC Yamaha’s 2018 EMX125 Champion Thibault Benistant has swapped his GYTR kitted YZ125 two-stroke machine for a GYTR kitted YZ250F four-stroke. Benistant won the EMX125 title with the support of MJC Yamaha and will remain with the team as he enters his rookie season in the EMX250 class.
Despite having Benistant in the EMX250 ranks, MJC Yamaha EMX125 will still support three young riders looking to make waves on the world stage. This years line up will consist of Florian Miot, Luca Diserens and the eventual winner of the 2018 YZ125 bLU cRUCup Magnus Smith.
Completing Yamaha’s bid for success, six-time FIM Women’s Motocross World Champion Kiara Fontanesi will remain on her own team, MX Fonta Yamaha WMX, as she sets her sights on her seventh World Title. The defending champion will be joined under the MX Fonta awning and on the gate for the five round WMX series by the current WMX world ‘number three’ Larissa Papenmeier.
Yamaha Motor Europe MX Racing Manager
“I am happy to have Ben and Jago in our official MX2 team run by Kemea. Both guys did great last year, Jago was the best rookie and Ben finished fourth, this is something that pleasantly surprised us, especially as two years ago we sat down and looked at the possibilities to challenge for a place on the podium inside the MX2 class and at that moment the top five riders inside the championship were already contracted, so we needed to try to find young guys who we could sign to a multi-year deal that we believed would have potential to grow and eventually challenge for podium finishes. When Jago and Ben landed on the podium last year, this caught us by surprise not because we did not think they could, but it just happened sooner than expected. Last season both riders were both fast and fit, and I believe that in the winter period they have further improved their speed and condition and I think they are capable of challenging for podium finishes and hopefully race victories too.
We also focused on quality, last season Kemea went out with three riders and this season they will line up with two. This will work in favour of both the riders and the team where they can focus on their goal of being at the sharp end of MX2.”
Words and pic: Yamaha