Having lost his Konica Minolta Honda ride, former MotoGP race winner Makoto Tamada will switch to the Dunlop backed Tech 3 Yamaha team for the 2007 MotoGP World Championship.
Tamada took a podium finish in his debut 2003 MotoGP season, then scored two victories during 2004, but the switch from Bridgestone to Michelin tyres has resulted in only one podium in the two seasons since. Tamada's Konica Minolta Honda ride is all but certain to be taken by Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano.
"I am happy to be back on Dunlop tyres again, and have good memories of riding on Dunlop in the Japanese Superbike Championship," said Tamada, who has two MotoGP wins, five podiums and three pole positions to his credit. "I am excited by the challenge that the Tech 3 Yamaha Dunlop project offers. I was able to judge at close quarters the current level of the Dunlop Yamaha package throughout a close race I had with Carlos Checa at the last GP in Portugal."
Tech 3 Yamaha and Dunlop took two seventh placed finishes with Checa this season - but the team's 2007 plans were dealt a severe blow when the experienced Spaniard announced he was leaving for a more competitive Honda LCR ride on Michelin tyres. However, Herve Poncharal and Dunlop will now attempt to tap into the form Tamada displayed during his Bridgestone career.
We are very happy to welcome Makoto Tamada," said Poncharal. "He is an excellent rider who has already proved his ability by winning two Grands Prix and being on the podium five times in the MotoGP era. We are sure that he will be able to help Dunlop continue to become ever more competitive – a challenge that is even more interesting since we will all jointly work with the new Yamaha 800 with the full support of the Yamaha factory."
The Tamada signing comes on the same day that Dunlop announced a major investment in its MotoGP tyre programme (see previous story), although it looks like Tech 3 might be the only team using Dunlop rubber in 2007 – with d'Antin Ducati expected to switch to Bridgestones.
Meanwhile, there is no news on the second Tech 3 seat, currently occupied by James Ellison, or on who will take Nakano's Kawasaki seat.