Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal says the two Yamaha MotoGP teams were 'very impressed' with their first introduction to the 2009 YZR-M1, a machine he says is very different from the world championship winning 2008 model.
"Our team has just come back from Japan where we had what we call our 'assembling schooling week'," Poncharal told the official MotoGP website. "Our team was there with the Fiat Yamaha crews learning how to assemble the new bike and they were all very impressed.
"The new bike looks like the 2008 one but there is almost not even one part which is the same. Everything we saw, although it was only static, is going in the right direction and we think this is what we need to be even better than in 2008.
"So we have got the new M1 and we have just finished assembling the four bikes in Japan. They will be shipped to Malaysia now and our first winter test with the new model will be 5th-7th February in Sepang."
After several tough seasons developing Dunlop tyres, Tech 3 returned to the front of the MotoGP field in 2008 when former factory rider Colin Edwards claimed two podiums, one pole and five front row starts, with rookie team-mate James Toseland adding a front row start at Qatar and multiple sixth place finishes - results Herve wants the pair to build on in their second year with the team.
"Our aim is to have one of them in the top five. Colin [seventh in championship] almost did it last year. With the new mono-brand tyre rule and the fact that now James knows all the circuits both of them should be more competitive and closer to the front," said Poncharal. "We had a pole position and podiums in 2008 and pole position is a very difficult thing to do, but why not again? With no more 'qualifiers' like before maybe things will be more open. But especially with the podiums, we would like to see Colin up there again and we are dreaming of seeing James get his first MotoGP podium in the 2009 season."
A satellite MotoGP rider hasn't won a single race during the 800cc era, which began in 2007, something Poncharal hopes the new single-tyre rule could help change.
"I think everybody wants to see more and more competitive racing and the new tyre regulation is going to help the racing to be closer for sure," he declared. "We saw that through 2008 season the tyre factor created some breaks [gaps] in some races and took away the chances of some riders in some races. Everybody will now be on the same specification and the same quantity. We were testing that in Jerez in November and all of us, every rider, team manager and crew chief that I spoke to, were happy, even the ones who had previously been negative about the rule change.
"So I think this is going to help us to be more competitive and I think if you look at all the riders on the grid everybody is very, very strong. We [Tech 3 Yamaha] should be in a position where if we improve a bit from last year, when we had a lot of front row starts and we had podiums, then why not? James and Colin have the dream, the absolute target to try and win a race, so let's hope that an independent team is going to win a race and let's hope it is going to be us. This is not completely unrealistic, sure it will be tough as the factories have the best means, the best riders, but it [a satellite victory] has happened before and hopefully it will happen again in 2009."