It was the announcement few people in the industry were expecting, but GSE Racing (nee Airwaves Ducati) will definitely compete with Yamaha in 2009.

Naturally, plenty of questions have arisen from the revelation, so Crash.net went ahead and asked team manager Colin Wright why Yamaha, why now and what this means for their future...?

Crash.net:
What is the motivation to switch bikes from Ducati to Yamaha?

Colin Wright:
There are many reasons, but the main reason is that Yamaha wanted us in the first place and they also provide a longer term situation. We have had a year-by-year thing with Ducati but this time it is a three year deal, or two years with an option for both sides. We have been racing with Ducati for ten years but this is a big opportunity to change because we have achieved all we possibly can with Ducati. This is a fresh, new challenge.

Crash.net:
Why go with Yamaha?

CW:
Yamaha were the only company to approach us. It wasn't a case of GSE having to pick and choose because we never really had that luxury. Yamaha made their intentions known that they wanted to lift their profile in BSB and, fortunately for us, they chose us.

Crash.net:
How much competition was there to secure a contract with Yamaha?

CW:
Pretty much everyone in the paddock! It was suggested at Croft that next year would be a one-make series! Nigel Bosworth has been doing his homework and doing research since April, I believe, to investigate what opportunities were available. Other teams have had discussions with Yamaha, but it was their decision.

Crash.net:
How much of a challenge will the move represent?

CW:
Absolutely. It is a massive challenge and we are all excited about it. Critics have said that GSE Racing are a one-trick pony and we only win because we are on a Ducati - those sort of digs that say we are only win because we are getting an unfair advantage. The way we see it, we can do the same with another manufacturer and that's what we intend to prove. GSE Racing can win championships and races on a Yamaha. Ducati have enjoyed plenty of success with GSE but ultimately the team is GSE Racing. We have always been major contributors to the project, so we are keeping the same staff and the main difference will only be the motorcycle. GSE as an entity is solid.

Crash.net:
How confident are you that you can translate that success over immediately?

CW:
We are very confident. Come the first race, we will be up at the front because that is what we do. We know what ingredients it takes to win races and we know what it takes to lead races, so having all that information and knowledge, we aren't about to enter the championship with expectations of anything less than podiums and wins.

Crash.net:
When do you take delivery of the bikes?

CW:
We are going to get them this year, but that will be down to Yamaha to let us know when we can take them. There is a pre-production machine in Europe and we are quite keen to take a look at it and see what work is involved.

Crash.net:
Will there be co-operation with the Yamaha Italia World Superbike team?

CW:
I believe so. That is one of the major benefits because we will be working closely with World Superbikes from the point of view of testing and developing. In Yamaha's case, they have four motorcycles running the same specification which allows for cross-fertilisation of data and information, so it is a benefit for all concerned.

Crash.net:
Was a move to World Superbike always on the cards before this deal came about?

CW:
It had always been an ambition of GSE to enter World Superbikes because we feel we have unfinished business there. But it will only happen when the time is right and there is plenty of consider. It comes down to sponsors and partners too because they have a vested interested in GSE. Equally, we are really delighted that GSE has some security and our new target is to win the British Superbike Championship on a different bike.

Crash.net:
Attention will no doubt turn towards who will ride the bikes - who do you want to ride for you?

CW:
Shane and Leon. (How confident are you of keeping them?) I'm not confident as such, but I know that Shane and Leon have shown interest in staying with us and we're very happy to keep them. Having said that, other teams are talking to them and making offers. We only have one-year contracts with Shane and Leon to give them the chance to move on if there were better options for them, but we are back in negotiations with them. Although riders make up an important part of the team, our priority over recent weeks has been to get the deal done between GSE and Yamaha. Now we have that done, the next thing to do is to secure riders and sponsors and that is what we are doing now. I make no secret of wanting to keep them, but if not, I'm sure we can still do a good job.

Crash.net:
Will Airwaves be extending their sponsorship with GSE?

CW:
I believe a statement will be made in the near future.