Successful start in Portimao for Melandri and Laverty
Yamaha World Superbike Team riders Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty today wrapped up the first World Superbike test of the 2011 season. Run over three days at the Portimao circuit in Portugal, Melandri and Laverty experienced mixed and challenging weather conditions as they put their 2011 YZF-R1 race bike through its paces. Very limited dry track time made it impossible for the team to simulate any race distance runs to find a perfect set up for the Portimao circuit however they were able to successfully test and evaluate the updates and developments of the 2011 R1 and came away from the test confirming there were no issues and achieving positive results. Successful evaluations included confirming the different weight distribution of the bike, updated electronics and performance running with the new 2011 FIM regulations that include standard fuel injectors, standard fuel regulator and standard fuel pump. The 2011 bike also features a small increase in horsepower. Having only had shoulder surgery before Christmas with a recommended recovery time of two months, Melandri came to Portimao with the sole focus of learning the track and gaining valuable seat time on his new R1. Despite this the Italian rider impressed, without pushing he was able to challenge for some of the fastest times in the wet sessions (2nd in Wednesday's wet session and 3rd in Thursday's wet session), whilst keeping something in reserve for when fully fit in Australia next month. Laverty continued to impress, the young rider continuing to adapt quickly to Superbike riding. He tested a few things with the team over the three days, again being unable to run race distance due to weather the time was spent focusing on development work. The final combined times saw him in third position just two tenths off the number one spot.
Yamaha World Superbike Team 3rd, 1'43.707 83laps
"Despite the weather it has been really beneficial for me to get some more laps on the bike. I hadn't had any time on the R1 in the wet before this test so if race one at Phillip Island is wet now it'll be fine! I'm really happy with the bike, in the wet and the dry. It was a slow start on the first day but then we made a big breakthrough with the front setting and I jumped up to third which is at least where I should be. It shows we can be strong so I'm confident we can be on the pace wherever we go. When I walk into the garage I feel at home. We came here and picked up where we left off from last year's Phillip Island test really smoothly. I'm looking forward to getting back to Australia now for the two day test and then getting stuck into some racing!"
Yamaha World Superbike Team 15th, 1'45.461 82laps
"I'm very happy with the results of this test. It was very important for me so soon after my shoulder operation to be careful and take it easy on the bike. I came here to focus on seeing the track and learning it along with some more time on the bike. We haven't pushed very hard at all but I'm feeling very comfortable on it despite the discomfort of the shoulder. We seemed to find a very good wet set up very easily and I was surprised how easy it was to go fast. I'm looking forward now to getting to Australia, I've been training really hard to get back to full fitness so I am looking forward to being fully fit and really going for it and pushing."
Andrea Dosoli - Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager
"This test was very important as we had full spec of the 2011 race bike so we had to verify that everything was right. It was also quite important for Melandri to test his shoulder after the operation before Christmas. I must say I'm impressed with the job he did. He was able to ride well. The first day he had a lot of pain but he adjusted quickly to the track and the second day in the wet where the riding style is not so aggressive he had more mobility. Eugene was also improving consistently. He worked hard on the set up on the Wednesday, the results were confirmed later in the afternoon with some fast laps. Unfortunately the weather did not help. I think for the future we should look elsewhere for less unpredictable weather. We leave Portimao with a good feeling and a competitive package. We have another two days of testing to work on the set up for the first Philip island race, I am confident Marco will be back in shape and fully fit."
Luca Scassa and Chaz Davies impress on first Yamaha YZF-R6 Outing The official factory supported Yamaha YZF-R6 race bikes were warmly welcomed back to the paddock by Infront at Portimao, the Yamaha ParkinGO Team and riders Scassa and Davies taking their first outing with the Yamaha Supersport bikes. With the agreement for the 2011 season between the team and Yamaha reached less than two weeks before the test there was just time to dust off Crutchlow's R6s' (last raced in 2009 where he dominated on his way to the world title), and refresh the engines before they took to the track on Wednesday. The test was approached as a familiarization session for both the riders and the team, with the combined times not reflecting the speed with which the two riders got to grips with their bikes, even leading several of the sessions at times and recording some of the fastest times of the sessions. This was particularly impressive considering everyone was new to the machines, Scassa's performance in particular defied the physical size of the rider, weighing over 80kg and standing 1.82m tall. There continues to be a lot of work for the team ahead to prepare for the first race in Australia, with materials due to be shipped out to Phillip Island in less than two weeks the focus now lies in preparing spare parts and finalizing the designs for the 2011 race season.