New Era Dawns for Yamaha World Supersport Team
The 2008 World Supersport Championship season will witness a rejuvenated official Yamaha presence through all 14 rounds of the series, with long time Yamaha servant Broc Parkes now joined by 2002 World Champion Fabien Foret (both Yamaha World Supersport Team). The experienced squad now enters the fray equipped with a freshly sharpened Yamaha YZF-R6 under its expert care.
Both Parkes and Foret won World Supersport Championship races last year, and their most important priority is to see who can be first to give the comprehensively re-designed YZF-R6 its first World Championship race win of the 2008 season. After two intense winter test sessions, one in Qatar and one in Australia, the team faces one last two-day try-out this week in Qatar before the season starts for real. Parkes was fastest rider in each of the two previous tests, with Foret close behind, easing himself into the groove after rejoining Yamaha from another manufacturer.
In line with the Supersport Championship's largely production based regulations, the team has now elected to run with a production-derived blue livery in 2008; a classic colour scheme, instantly recognisable on many Yamaha competition machines of the recent past, and one which will become even more closely linked with Yamaha in the future.
As well as a new model to work with the team have instigated many changes in technical partners this season, with the overall effort coming under the control of Team Manager Wilco Zeelenberg. Wilco, himself a proven WSS race winner for Yamaha during an illustrious riding career, took over the reins of team management with only a couple of rounds remaining in 2007, and he now starts his first full season in charge of the Yamaha World Supersport Team.
The 2007 campaign featured many high points for the official Yamaha entry, but injury to Parkes in the early season held back his push for ultimate championship glory. A continuous programme of improvement to the previous model of YZF-R6 allowed Parkes to score two race wins among his five podium finishes, with another pair of maximum points scores going to temporary stand-in Yamaha World Supersport Team rider Anthony West. Parkes earned second in the championship overall, with Foret third on points.
The Germany-based team has been hard at work recently getting their latest machines ready to be shipped out for the final shakedown test, on 12 and 13 February, before the first points become available at round one in Qatar, on 23 February.
Broc Parkes - Yamaha World Supersport Team
"This is the happiest I've ever been starting a season and the best thing is the new organisation of the team. All the new equipment and the way we are using it has allowed us to be fastest in the Qatar test over three days, and then fastest at Phillip Island over three days. I have the best set-up I have ever had. I don't want to be too confident right now but so far it's all been very good. I have been working hard over the winter back home in Australia, with a personal trainer; to make sure I am as fit as I can be. After a couple more days of preparation in Qatar, we will be ready for the first round."
Fabien Foret - Yamaha World Supersport Team
"I think I once more have a bike which is capable of winning races and hopefully the championship. I am not putting any pressure on myself but I know I have everything to do a really good job. We have one more test before the first race to try to set-up the bike as well as possible for my style. We have two races in quick succession so it is important to be ready for not just Qatar but Phillip Island also. We have spent most of our testing time making the whole package work for race distance. I want to be consistently fast not just really fast for one lap, and I have been happy with how consistent our pace can be over a lot of laps on race tyres. I feel that I need the two days of track time at Losail to help me finalise my front-end set-up, but I am also just looking forward to going racing again afterwards. I think it is fair to say I am more of a racer than a single lap qualifier. I just try to get comfortable on the bike and I love the pressure of the race. I love to fight!"
Wilco Zeelenberg - Team Manager Yamaha World Supersport Team
"We have signed the two riders who finished second and third in the championship last year - and the clear aim this year is to win the world title back for Yamaha. The riders are both very strong and we are aiming for more consistency in our performances. The new bike has a lot to do with that. The 2008 YZF-R6 has many changes compared to the 2007 machine, even if it may look quite similar from the outside. One big difference is the chassis and the swingarm, giving us a significant step up in overall handling, particular in corner entry. The 2008 roadbike YZF-R6 arrived quite early from Japan so the guys have been able to do a lot of engine development already, and concentrate their efforts on the YCC-I system -- the variable air intake. That has been another area where we have seen real progress in a short time, improving in particular performance in the mid-range. I think we are in a good position to start the year, and now we just need the two-day test in Qatar to finalise everything.
"For the 2008 season we have full support directly from 0x00d6hlins and we're very confident that this will bring us valuable benefits. The full race suspension package that they have provided to us for the two tests gave the riders a much better front end feel compared to the 2007 package. We also changed the brake supplier to Brembo, which Broc started using during the middle of the season last year. There are a lot of other detail improvements that add up to a much more race-ready machine from the start."