The presentation was hosted by Italian TV star Simona Ventura and took place at the historic Lingotto building, which was Fiat's car factory from 1923 until 1982.

After two successive title defeats for star rider Valentino Rossi, much rests on the shoulders of the new M1 - which the Italian has made clear must be a substantial improvement over the 2007 model if he is to take a sixth premier-class crown.

Speaking at the launch of the new bike, which has an almost identical livery to last year's machine, Rossi - sporting a short haircut similar to that of new team-mate Jorge Lorenzo - appeared cautiously optimistic.

"I'm very happy that we're so close to the start of racing," said Rossi. "This is a very important year for us and our only aim is to win, although it's going to be hard work. My hand [injured at the Valencia season finale] is much better, if not yet perfect, and I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike in Sepang next week. Everyone has been working very hard over the winter and I think our new bike is quite good, although of course we still have a lot of work to do. Everyone is very motivated and I know that we have the best team there is."

Rossi sunk to third in the 2007 MotoGP World Championship, 126 points behind Ducati's Casey Stoner, but just one-point behind Honda's Dani Pedrosa. The Italian took four race wins last year, his least amount of victories since 2000.

The Doctor - who took three successive premier-class titles with Honda before switching to Yamaha in 2004, where he continued his championship-winning streak for two more years - remains the only M1 rider to have won a grand prix since Max Biaggi in 2002.

Rossi has switched to Bridgestone tyres for 2008, while rookie team-mate Lorenzo will ride on Michelins, forcing the factory Yamaha pit garage to be split in two to protect sensitive tyre data.

Despite this restriction on 'file sharing', reigning double 250cc world champion Lorenzo - who will have at least one eye on winning the 2008 'rookie of the year' title - is pleased with his progress and looking forward to the season ahead.

"I'm very happy to be here, with these people, this bike and in this team," said the Spaniard. "I have a long way to go in my development but I have improved each time I've ridden the bike and the last test especially was very good. I'm very excited about this season and it's a great honour to share the garage with Valentino, who is without doubt the most complete talent in our sport."

"The most important change to our team is the arrival of Jorge Lorenzo as Valentino Rossi's new team-mate," stated Lin Jarvis, managing director of Yamaha Motor Racing. "Our aim is to recapture the title and, as our most experienced rider, this is Valentino's clear mission. However we also expect Jorge to be fighting at the front as he gains experience. We have two multiple world championship winning riders in our team and we believe we have optimum chance to realise our ambitions."

Tech 3 team-mates Colin Edwards and James Toseland will also race a 2008-spec YZR-M1.

Yamaha's new motorcycle will make its MotoGP debut during testing at Sepang on January 22.

Rossi's existing Yamaha contract expires at the end of this season.


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