Friday, August 26, 2011

Yamaha: No official team orders

The Factory Yamaha team will not impose any 'official' team orders, in an attempt to help Jorge Lorenzo's flagging 2011 MotoGP title hopes.

Heading into this weekend's Indianapolis round, Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner has built a 32 point lead over Lorenzo, whose team-mate Ben Spies is 109 points from the top in sixth. There are seven rounds and a potential 175 points remaining.

Earlier in the year, Lorenzo indicated that he felt team orders were appropriate if only one rider in a team was fighting for the title.

"If your partner can help you - and they are not fighting for the championship - we are a team, no?" said the reigning champion. "Our salary is coming from our brand, so the partner should help you if it is possible. 

"MotoGP is not like soccer, but it is still a team and success for the brand is very important."

With Spies finishing in front of Lorenzo just once this season - during his debut MotoGP victory at Assen, where Lorenzo was knocked down on the opening lap - the question of team orders might sound academic.

But Spies outperformed Lorenzo as a satellite Yamaha rider in front of his home fans at Indianapolis last year, qualifying on pole and finishing second to Dani Pedrosa in the race.

The Texan is therefore expected to be in victory contention again this season, but Lorenzo - third at Indy last year - should expect no 'official' favours.

"We've never given official team orders and have no plans to do so!" a Factory Yamaha team spokesman told "I'm sure you remember Motegi last year!"

At last year's Japanese GP, title leader Lorenzo and then team-mate Valentino Rossi - out of championship contention - battled ferociously for third place, which eventually went to Rossi following contact between the pair.

After the race, Lorenzo and his side of the garage felt the level of resistance offered by Rossi had been disproportionate.

"Valentino took too many risks and touched Jorge a couple of times, which should not have happened when Jorge is fighting for the championship," said Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg.

Meanwhile Stoner, winner of six races this year, is firmly against team orders of any kind.

"I don't think there should ever really be team orders," said Stoner. "It's not football. You're not all on the same team, playing for the same thing. We're each our own person."

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