Qatar: Yamaha Racing Thursday report

New R1 leads the way in Qatar Yamaha's new-for-2007 YZF-R1 demonstrated that it is a weapon to be reckoned with in world superbike competition, with Noriyuki Haga scoring provisional pole on the bike's world championship debut in Qatar ...

New R1 leads the way in Qatar

Yamaha's new-for-2007 YZF-R1 demonstrated that it is a weapon to be reckoned with in world superbike competition, with Noriyuki Haga scoring provisional pole on the bike's world championship debut in Qatar today.

The Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team rider topped the timesheets for much of the session onboard the MotoGP-inspired R1, with the Japanese rider particularly happy with his performance because he was concentrating on finding a good set-up to last Saturday's 18-lap race rather than going for an ultimate pole position time. Haga's 1:59.019 provisional pole time was set on race rubber and is the fastest ever superbike lap of the Losail circuit, being over half-a-second faster than Troy Bayliss' qualifying lap last year, and a full second quicker than his own race record.

There was double delight for the Yamaha Motor Italia squad as team-mate Troy Corser also ended the day on the provisional front row. The Australian was also under Bayliss' previous best, posting a 1:59.440 to end the day fourth on the timesheets in his debut with the Italian squad.

Having tested at the circuit just a few weeks earlier, the team arrived in Qatar with a good base setting for their R1s. Despite this, the squad still had a great deal of work to get through in order to get the best out of their machines for Saturday's races. With track temperatures approaching 45 C on the tarmac, tyre selection could prove critical this weekend. Corser and Haga have access to newer-specification Pirelli tyres this weekend than they had during testing, giving them a heavy programme of tyre testing in the practice sessions.

Shinichi Nakatomi ended the day 15th on the Team YZF Yamaha entry. The new squad, born out of the Yamaha Motor France-entered team of 2005 and 2006, is chiefly responsible for development of Yamaha's YEC range of customer race parts and using the world series to test and improve the range. The Japanese rider, entering his second year in the series, posted a time of 2:01.964 to gain a provisional place in tomorrow afternoon's grid deciding superpole session.

In today's tight qualifying session it was British rider James Toseland (Honda) who pushed Haga closest, recording a time of 1:59.056 to take second in the overnight standings. Joining them and Corser on the provisional front row is former 250cc world champion and Yamaha MotoGP rider Max Biaggi (Suzuki), who was third fastest on his superbike debut.

Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team) "I am surprised to be fastest because when we tested here I did not have a really good feeling with the bike. This morning I tried the set-up we left the test with but the feeling was still the same. For the afternoon we changed a few things and made a big step and I am now happy with the way the bike turns. We worked hard to find a good setting for the race and I still want to get better tyre life. For six or seven laps the tyre is very good but then we find that the rear falls away a lot on the right side. The new bike is working well. We only had our shakedown tests a few weeks ago but luckily we are able to carry forward many of the parts and knowledge from the previous R1 so we already have a very good base to work from."

Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team) "I'm fairly happy with that. The track feels different from when we tested here and that's had an effect on how the bike is performing. We need to improve the front end tyre feel and there are quite a few little things for us to try out tomorrow. For sure it would have been nice to have had a few more tests before the first race but we've got a good base to work from and fourth is a pretty decent start." Shinichi Nakatomi (Team YZF Yamaha) "No so bad! We made an improvement of two-and-a-half seconds between the morning and afternoon and I hope we can make some more improvement as we learn more about the set-up of the new machine." Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator - Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team) "We tested here a few weeks ago because we understood the importance of being competitive from the very first race. We found a good base setting at the test and, but for a few small changes, only the tyre options are different. We're happy with how it's gone today but it is hard to really judge how competitive we can be on race day at this moment. Both riders have been able to complete around 11 to 12 laps on the tyres but we still have to do some more endurance testing tomorrow."

***

R6 men show Middle Eastern promise

The Yamaha World Supersport team made a promising start to Saturday's opening round of the 2007 Supersport World Championship at a hot and sunny Losail circuit in Qatar today, ending first qualifying with both riders on the provisional second row.

Last year's championship runner-up Kevin Curtain was the fastest of the YZF-R6 runners, setting a best lap of 2:03.941 around the long and fast desert circuit. Team-mate Broc Parkes was just five hundreds of a second behind his fellow Australian to take eighth place in a tight session that saw the top eight all in the 2:03 bracket. Encouragingly both of the Yamaha Motor Europe entered machines were able to run consistently at race pace, putting in consistent 2:04 lap times during their runs.

The season certainly got off to a spectacular start when Curtain's R6 was destroyed in a pile-up just minutes into the morning practice session. The accident claimed four Yamaha riders with Yamaha GMT94's David Checa and Sebastien Gimbert, as well as Italian privateer Gianluca Vizziello, all going down on oil deposited by another rider's machine. Thankfully all riders escaped without injury and were able to return to the circuit when the session was restarted, allowing the protagonists to work on finding a good set-up for Saturday's 18 lap race.

Yamaha Motor Italy Lorenzini by Leoni rider Massimo Roccoli ended the day 11th on his YZF-R6, with supersport newcomer Gimbert and team-mate Checa ending the day 17th and 21st places respectively. Fastest man on show was Japanese rider Katsuaki Fujiwara (Honda) who recorded a 2:03.258 lap in the last minute of the session. Italian Gianluca Nannelli (Ducati) and Honda team-mates Kenan Sofuoglu and Sebastien Charpentier complete the provisional front row.

Kevin Curtain "Not a bad day but the crash this morning was a real downer. Someone blew up right on the racing line and four of us went down, with Broc and a few others doing real well to stay up. The bike was totally destroyed in the crash and that set me back as the spare bike wasn't set up quite the same. That's a shame but we know we are competitive and can make some improvements for tomorrow."

Broc Parkes "It's been a decent enough start today. I almost crashed on the oil in the morning session and the two big delays were a little strange. The times are all very close and we're on the pace. I think that we are already in decent shape but hopefully we can get further up the grid tomorrow."

-credit: yamaha racing

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Max Biaggi , Troy Bayliss , Noriyuki Haga , Broc Parkes , James Toseland , David Checa , Troy Corser , Katsuaki Fujiwara , Kenan Sofuoglu , Sébastien Gimbert , Kevin Curtain , Massimo Roccoli , Shinichi Nakatomi