As they approach their home race this weekend at the Grand Prix de France the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team this season celebrate 20 years of World Championship participation.
The team is of course run by Frenchman Hervé Poncharal, one of the most respected and recognisable figures in the MotoGP paddock, who also acts as the President of the International Road-Racing Teams Association (IRTA).
Poncharal was a professional rider himself in his early years and he got his Grand Prix schooling in team management with Honda France in the 1980s, before taking an adventurous decision to form his own team – Tech 3 – in 1989.
Poncharal has enjoyed a close relationship with fellow Tech 3 director Guy Coulon since the team’s formation, the respected engineer remaining at the forefront of the organisation’s activities to this day as Crew Chief to Colin Edwards.
Early highlights in the team’s history include American rider John Kocinski’s 1993 podiums on Suzuki machinery in the 250cc class, the move onto Yamaha bikes and the emergence of team-mates Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano as race winners in 1999, followed by Jacque’s dramatic 2000 250cc World Championship win for the team as he beat colleague Nakano in Australia.
Tech 3 moved into the premier class in 2001 and were on the podium in their very first 500cc season at Sachsenring courtesy of Nakano, whilste Brazilian rider Alex Barros put them back on the rostrum in third place at Le Mans in 2003.
Since then the team have provided rides for the likes of the late Norick Abe, Marco Melandri, Toni Elías, Carlos Checa, James Ellison, Makoto Tamada and Sylvain Guintoli.
In 2008 the team took a step forward with the acquisition of the aforementioned Colin Edwards and James Toseland, also securing competitive packages from Yamaha and enjoying additional podiums courtesy of Edwards at Le Mans and Assen, with the American continuing alongside the Englishman this year.
"It’s appropriate that we celebrate our 20th birthday at our home race in Le Mans this weekend," Poncharal stated. "We could never have imagined when we started back in 1989 that we would be a leading team in the premier motorcycle racing world championship class. What seemed a distant dream then is now reality, thanks to the hard work and commitment of many people who have shown unbelievable dedication to make the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team what it is today."
"We have had some truly unforgettable experiences and we’ve been fortunate to have some of the world’s best talent riding for Tech 3. Olivier’s victory in the 250cc championship in 2000 will be etched in my mind forever. We always had a dream for a French team to win a world title with a French rider. Accomplishing that mission with OJ is something I will always cherish," Poncharal continued.
"We can also look forward with great optimism to the future. Racing is our passion and I hope we have made a small contribution to the huge success that MotoGP now is. I hope too that we have been a team which fans around the globe have enjoyed following and will continue to do so. Here’s to the next 20!"