Despite wet weather and cold ambient air temperatures, Yamaha Motor Italia's world superbike team and the Yamaha Motor Germany's world supersport squad tested in Valencia on 13th and 14th December. The test proved a good opportunity to try out both development and race kit parts on the 2005 YZF-R1 and YZF-R6. Even allowing for the far from perfect conditions the teams proved to be satisfied with the performance of their latest spec machinery, which will be tested in a more complete fashion at Phillip Island in late January.
In superbike Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia, YZF-R1) made progress on what was an updated version of the machine he tested for the first time at Valencia in mid-November. New suspension components and revised engine mapping, combined with work on a slipper clutch, were the primary points of interest, even if testing time was cut short by with the slow-to-dry track surface on day one. A patchy surface to start and one final return of the rains on day two foreshortened further meaningful trials of new components.
In the supersport class, for 600cc machines of an even closer relation to a showroom machine than a production based superbike, the all-Australian pairing of Kevin Curtain and new Yamaha signing Broc Parkes had their very first taste of the latest YZF-R6. Even allowing for a shortened combined first day lap count (20 for Parkes and only six for Curtain) the riders expressed great confidence in the front end feel and feedback levels of the new middleweight marvel. Parkes, a new signing for the 2005 season, tried both 2004 and 2005 machines, voting the latest race-kitted model a clear improvement, even at this early stage of his Yamaha career.
Andrew Pitt: "We continued with the new bike, building on what we had at the last test here in November. I did about 40 laps today, around 50 yesterday and I set a best lap in the 1'39s the first time I went out with slicks on front and rear. The surface was patchy with water in some areas but pretty much dry the first time I went out on slicks. Just as soon as I came into the pitlane again the rains came back. We worked on the mapping and injection systems a lot, to get the best response from the engine. We also tried some rear shocks with new settings, and so on. With it being so wet it was hard to get some of the info but we could definitely feel some improvements. I also tried out some different clutches and I think there are still a lot of progress to be done on that aspect of the set-up. Our next tests is at Phillip Island in late January, so we should have much better weather there."
Due to contractual reasons Yamaha's second 2005 season Superbike rider will not be announced until January, with his first test on the YZF-R1 taking place at Phillip Island on January 23-25. (editor note: Paddock talk is Nori Haga is the rider)
Yamaha Motor Germany Team Manager - Terrell Thien: "The new R6 has certainly impressed the riders already. Even Broc, who is a new signing, could feel the improvements made between last year's bike and the 2005 one. Kevin has a lot of experience on the previous bike so he rode the new one, and he was immediately happy with the front-end feel. Even if it was wet or damp all the time, the riders put in some good laps."
Kevin Curtain: "Even with the rain these tests have been really good for us because the new bike feels incredibly different compared to the previous one. The new front end feels a lot more stiff and planted during turn-in and mid corner. The engine is still in the relatively early development stage but already the horsepower is smoother and appears over a wider spread. I only did about a dozen laps in total on day two. The track was wet again when we got here this morning and takes an incredible amount of time to dry so there were a lot of damp patches around the tarmac. I think I did a 1'41.5s lap but the track surface was dangerous in these conditions. If we had carried on we were going to get false information and in the early afternoon it started to sprinkle with rain again. We learned enough to realise, even now, that this bike is an even better package than the previous R6."
Broc Parkes: "The test's been pretty good and it's nice to be working with Yamaha. They are clearly putting in a really big effort and the bike is excellent. I started on the old one and ended up on the new one, but it was a big step upwards in every aspect. It's a shame the weather meant that we didn't have a fair test, just because of the limited time we had on the bike. Conditions have been terrible. I was starting to dry out but two laps after lunch it started spitting again. Kevin and I flew in on Sunday from Australia and we're flying out again tonight, Tuesday. My body and mind are still on Australian time! Kev is a good guy and along with the all-German team we've been working very well to test as much as we could."
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