Despite bad weather
The first test of 2009 for the Yamaha World Superbike Team at the Portimao circuit in Portugal was hampered by bad weather for the duration of the three days.
Despite this setback both new riders performed well, fine tuning their set ups for the
upcoming test and first race of the 2009 World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island in Australia.
Young American three-time AMA Superbike star Ben Spies was consistently on the pace, and finished the test second fastest with an overall time of 1'43.484, less than two tenths of a second off fastest rider Shane Bryne.
“For sure it was good to be here and get more time on the bike and work with the team, the rain was a bit dodgy so it's been frustrating to get some decent track time”, he said. “In the first of the new format Superpole test sessions on the last day we were quickest, unfortunately for the second session it rained and I didn't want to do anything silly so didn't push too hard. We worked on some settings over the test and got down to some pretty quick times. We got to try a few things with the bike and made a big step up, taking half a second a lap off, but the weather didn't allow us to get more. The bikes got good straight line speed now and we're continually improving. I'm very confident we've got what it takes to win. The team have been great, we're working really well together. I'm looking forward to getting to Australia and getting stuck in again!”
Spies team mate, Young rising British star Tom Sykes, took advantage of the test to catch up on time missed due illness at the previous test in South Africa and flew up the times, ending the test an impressive fourth, less than a tenth of a second from his team mate with a time of 1'43.546.
“Yesterday when we had a bit more stable weather I had two hours good track time. We used the time wisely and chipped away every time went out, a bit of improvement with everything and I got a nice feeling with the bike and got fast consistent laps so was more than happy”, commented Sykes. “I'm very satisfied with how the test has gone, we've made up for lost time in South Africa, I was a little behind before but have caught up! I'm looking forward to getting to Australia. A couple more questions we need to answer with the bike then we're ready for the race!”
This was only the third outing for the riders on the M1 derived 2009 Yamaha WSB YZF-R1. The advantage of the revolutionary cross plane crankshaft and uneven firing interval resulted in more grip and smoother torque delivery for Spies and Sykes, enabling both riders to achieve faster times in the dry and in the wet. With more fine-tuning to come the team are looking to be serious contenders in the 2009 WSB Championship.
“The test went well, unfortunately the weather was bad every day and we only had two practices in the dry.
But anyway, no matter what the conditions we were in front, in the top five”, added Team Manager Massimo Meregalli. “We didn't test as much as we would have liked to here, we didn't make a lot of changes but in the end the guys performed brilliantly and worked well with the team. There's still stuff we have to fix, but considering we have a new bike and new riders we are pretty satisfied and confident. We know we still have a lot of jobs to do but we will get them done. In the end we have only had three months with this new bike so we have done a great job! We will have more performance from the bike in Phillip Island. Tom did a really good job yesterday, looking to find a good set up without pushing too much and Ben was consistently fast and on the pace. In the end to be in the front with both riders is very positive!”
From the South Africa test to Portimao, the Yamaha team achieved a big power output, clearly demonstrated when the R1 claimed the maximum top speed of all teams at the Portugese test.