Phillip Island : Camel Yamaha - Preview
The Camel Yamaha Team take their global points quest to the southern hemisphere this week as the MotoGP World Championship makes the transcontinental trip from Malaysia to Australia.
Round fourteen of seventeen takes place at
the Phillip Island circuit near Melbourne almost a month earlier than usual, promising brisk spring temperatures and another unpredictable weekend of top class motorcycling action.
Valentino Rossi arrives Down Under on top form, having clinched his fifth victory of the season just last Sunday in Malaysia. That morale-boosting win over fellow title contender Loris Capirossi (Ducati) has left him just 26 points shy of series leader Nicky Hayden (Honda) with four rounds to go and his most successful premier-class circuit on the horizon. The 27 year old has taken MotoGP victory at Phillip Island for the past five straight seasons, adding to two previous successes there in the 250cc class.
The target for Colin Edwards is a return to the early season form that culminated in a victory challenge at Assen in round seven. Like the Dutch TT circuit, Phillip Island is a place the Texan enjoyed huge success at during his World Superbike career and it provides the ideal scenario for him to work around the set-up problems he has encountered with the YZR-M1 machine in recent races.
Phillip Island demands far more than just a fast bike to make for quick and consistent lap times. The sweeping and flowing circuit is possibly one of the ultimate tests of machine control and throttle accuracy, not to mention the sheer bravery and forcefulness required of the rider.
Its exposed location on the cliffs facing the Bass Strait means that weather is a constant talking point, especially this year, when tyre choice will be a crucial consideration.
"It's going to be a big change from what we're used to at Phillip Island because we've never been there at this time of year and we're expecting it to be very cold!" explains Pierre Alves, Michelin Tyre Technician for the Camel Yamaha Team. "Generally for Phillip Island you need a tyre that's quite hard on the left side and much softer, but not too soft, on the right side. Because of the temperature it's going to be much harder than usual to find the right combination and balance for the track, as tyre efficiency will be reduced with such a low track temperature."
"Usually we have quite a good base to work from at Phillip Island, because we test there, but this year we didn't so we don't know so much about how the new M1 will go there. However the biggest factor, as far as tyres go, is the weather; it's quite difficult because we've really never faced a situation like this! It's certainly going to be one of the most challenging, and interesting, races of the year for us!"