Yamahas prove pace in final practice
Yamaha's superbike and supersport riders made their final preparations for next
weekend's season opener with a two-day test at the Losail circuit in Qatar. The
test marked the 2005 protagonists first time on the track together with both the
private and officially-supported YZF-R1 superbike riders showing well.
The circuit itself proved slippery, especially on day one, but as conditions
improved lap times dropped in both classes.The test threw up some new names to
reckon with in the new-look superbike series, with no less than five Yamaha
YZF-R1 riders finishing in the top nine positions.
Spaniard Jose Luis Cardoso of the private DFXtreme squad proved to be the
fastest Yamaha rider. The former 500 Grand Prix rider heading the timesheets on
Saturday and ending the weekend third fastest behind pacesetters Yukio Kagayama
and Troy Corser (both Suzuki). Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France-IPONE) led
the combined timesheet until the final 15 minutes of the last session, when he
was pushed back to fifth, just ahead of another Spanish R1 privateer: Ivan Silva
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia) went ninth on combined times, running 98
laps to perfect a race set-up. He did not resort to qualifying tyres, unlike
most other riders. Gimbert's team-mate Norick Abe secured 11th fastest time and
racked up an impressive 147 laps over the two days, while Andrew Pitt (Yamaha
Motor Italia) had some problems with engine braking and throttle pick-up.
Despite using a qualifying tyre near the finish, the Australian ended the
weekend in 12th.
Yamaha Motor Germany supersport rider Kevin Curtain crashed on day one, twisting
his knee but luckily not damaging the collarbone he injured during testing last
month. He nonetheless applied himself to the tricky task of lapping fast on a
slippery and ever-changing track surface, finishing the test third quickest of
the 18 riders in attendance, thanks to a 2'05.194.
Parkes, new to the team for 2005 and undergoing only his second real testing
session, toiled hard on day two, but was unable to find an ideal race set-up. He
too was fighting pain and weakness from a previous injury, having broken his
hand in a training accident. He ended his two days eighth fastest, with a best
time of 2'06.436, set in the final session.
Qualifying for the first of 12 rounds begins on Thursday 24 February, with the
race held on Saturday 26.
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia)
"The track was quite slippery but not really any worse than I expected. So we
should be OK. It was just common sense to make more time testing on the race
tyre than use a qualifier because that only means a fast time today, not for the
Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia)
"I put a qualifier in at the end but I kept braking too early because the sun
was so low I could hardly see. The bike's worked pretty well but I'm still
trying to get the mapping, throttle pick up and engine braking just right. There
are not too many guys doing consistent times, and we did 11 laps on our race
tyres, caught up to Regis Laconi and passed him. So it's all working better."
Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator - Yamaha Motor Italia)
"We had a good improvement today and I know that Nori did not want to use a
qualifying tyre. He did his best lap with a race tyre. All we concentrated on
was the race weekend. In the end he was quite happy. We know that most things
for us in superbike are almost new. Fortunately we have some more time to test
but we found a good direction and we can improve in qualifying for the race."
Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France - IPONE)
"The level here is very tough. For me this was the first time to ride together
with most of the other riders. Everybody is so close and it is not just the top
riders who can go fast. This was a surprise. When I made a little improvement my
position would go up, but when I was not able to make a good lap time I went
down a lot! It was all so close in the top 15. We have tried a lot of different
settings and at the end of today we found good ones. I could not use my
qualifier properly as two riders got in the way so my best time was set on race
tyres. But I made consistent fast laps on my race tyre."
Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France - IPONE)
"A top five result was good but it was not our priority. We were here to test
for the race and that is next week. I think we made a good job and a good lap
time but more importantly the bike is ready for the race. I hope that the track
will be even better, but I like the layout, even if it is not quite my
favourite. It is hard to attack a circuit like this."
Martial Garcia (Team Manager - Yamaha Motor France - IPONE)
"We made our normal work here today and of course Sebastien knows the bike very
well. Abe is coming step-by-step and I believe he will join Sebastien in one or
two races. We just worked on the race set-up and of course it seems Pirelli made
a good jump because we are just a couple of seconds from the GP times. Abe is
very surprised by the pace of world superbike."
Kevin Curtain (Yamaha Motor Germany)
"My knee is pretty sore off the bike but once you get into the flow your
concentration takes over and the pain is gone. I did my fastest time in the
second session, and got down to a decent time. The biggest problem is front tyre
wear. We only get four or five laps out of it and then it slides. We're not the
only people in this situation though, as it seems the circuit is hard on
Broc Parkes (Yamaha Motor Germany)
"We're trying to get a good set-up and the broken bone in my hand isn't helping.
Just getting a good feeling is another thing. Yesterday was good but I think we
must have gone a different way today. Kevin is not too bad so maybe I just need
to work a bit more with the bike. This is a real fun place to ride around and a
really nice track."
Terrell Thien (Team Manager - Yamaha Motor Germany)
"We still have a lot of work to do, especially on the suspension. The fork is
brand new and we didn't learn a lot about it. The rear shock is working well and
the rear grip is perfect but it is a shame we only have a choice of two front
tyres. Both types are tearing for almost every team and we have got a maximum of
ten laps from the front, no matter what we do with the suspension. Kevin's knee
is very painful from yesterday and Broc is riding with a broken hand. Broc is
working well with us, in what is really only our second test."
Leading times from Superbike World Championship testing:
1. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 2' 1.480
2. Troy Corser (Suzuki) 2' 1.554
3. Jose Luis Cardoso (Yamaha) 2' 1.797
4. Regis Laconi (Ducati) 2' 1.827
5. Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha) 2' 1.956
6. Ivan Silva Alberola (Yamaha) 2' 2.194
7. Chris Walker (Kawasaki) 2' 2.442
8. Marco Borciani (Yamaha) 2' 2.548
9. Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) 2' 2.591
10. James Toseland (Ducati) 2' 2.639
11. Norifumi Abe (Yamaha) 2' 2.652
12. Andrew Pitt (Yamaha) 2' 2.713
Leading times from Supersport World Championship testing:
1. Sιbastien Charpentier (Honda) 2' 4.259
2. Fabien Foret (Honda) 2' 5.083
3. Kevin Curtain (Yamaha) 2' 5.194
4. Michel Fabrizio (Honda) 2' 5.295
6. Gianluca Nannelli (Ducati) 2' 5.917
7. Stephane Chambon (Honda) 2' 6.271
8. Broc Parkes (Yamaha) 2' 6.436