Yamaha's 2005 Superbike and Supersport World Championship campaigns got into full swing at Phillip Island today, as the officially supported Yamaha Motor Italia and Yamaha Motor Germany teams completed the first day of their test at the picturesque Australian circuit.
The test marked Noriyuki Haga's return to the manufacturer with whom he made his name in the mid-Nineties and the Japanese star completed shakedown laps aboard the Yamaha Motor Italia YZF-R1 which he will campaign in the superbike series.
Day one of the test was a familiarisation session for Haga, as he worked with his mechanics to find a comfortable seating position and a basic understanding of the YZF-R1. The Japanese ace suffered some minor fuelling problems but completed a total of 50 laps with a best time of 1'36.3.
While Haga acquainted himself with his new machine, team-mate Andrew Pitt concentrated on the fuel mapping on his YZF-R1. The Australian rider started the day on the bike with which he completed two tests at the Valencia circuit in Spain, but switched to a new machine with a slightly higher specification in the afternoon. In total Pitt ran 84 laps, with a best of 1'36.8.
Yamaha Motor Germany's Australian duo Kevin Curtain and Broc Parkes took to the circuit on the 2005-spec YZF-R6s they hope will take them to success in the Supersport World Championship. Both riders had ridden the machine at a wet test at Valencia in December, but today's outing was the first time the riders were able to fully evaluate the improvements made to the 2005 machine in dry conditions.
New signing Broc Parkes had an eventful morning, hampered by several brushes with the Phillip Island wildlife. On three occasions the Australian's machine was hit at high speed by seagulls, destroying the radiator, windscreen and instrument panel of his YZF-R6.
Curtain meanwhile had no such problems and was able to evaluate a number of new parts for his Yamaha. The experienced Aussie has a huge knowledge of the R6, having campaigned the previous model in 2003 and 2004, and was able spend the whole day working on suspension settings.
The teams will remain at Phillip Island on Monday and Tuesday, when weather conditions are forecast to be even warmer than today's 25-degree temperatures. Tomorrow Haga is due to work on the evaluation of new Pirelli tyres, while Pitt will focus on development parts for the R1. Parkes and Curtain will continue to focus on front suspension and tyre longevity.
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia World Superbike Team YZF-R1) "Today we concentrated on making the bike how I like it. At the start of the day I found the rear end was too high, so we have been making changes to make the bike lower and more comfortable for me. We still have a few small changes to make tomorrow but otherwise my first impression is good. This is only my first test on the bike so we are still a little bit behind where we would like to be, but I love a challenge!"
Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia World Superbike Team YZF-R1) "We've had a few little problems with the mapping, the injection and the balance today, but we have found a direction in which to go in tomorrow. At the end of the day, that's what testing's all about - finding problems and solving them - so it's not a problem."
Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator - Yamaha Motor Italia World Superbike Team) "I was waiting for this day for some time and in the end it was very exciting. Ideally it would have been best to have had this test one or two months ago but it has not been possible. The whole team has really enjoyed working with Nori. Having him in the team adds some pressure for us, but this makes it very exciting."
Kevin Curtain (Yamaha Motor Germany World Supersport Team YZF-R6) "It's been a good start. The front forks on the new R6 are definitely an improvement over the old bike. They give us a lot more grip and feel from the front end but at the moment we're not getting the tyre life we want. That's what we'll work on tomorrow: working with the suspension set-up to get good grip but also to save the tyre."
Broc Parkes (Yamaha Motor Germany World Supersport Team YZF-R6) "I've spent the Aussie summer training at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra with Andrew McFarlane (Yamaha motocross rider) and I have been really looking forward to riding the R6 in anger for the first time. It was quite windy today and I was really just riding around today to get a feel for the bike but already I am able to lap within half-a-second of my race pace from last year so it is a good start. The birds were a problem though. I hit three of them this morning and that cost us quite a lot of track time."
Terrell Thien (Team Manager Yamaha Motor Germany World Supersport Team) "Broc only really started in the afternoon due to the problems with the birds. Between them they cost us over 2000 Euros in the first hour of the day! But he got a good rhythm in the afternoon and is starting to learn how to ride the bike and the differences between the Yamaha and a Honda. Kevin did a great job for us again but he is the sort of guy who is always expecting more. The front suspension is working well but it is also the newest part of the motorcycle, so that is what we will have to spend most time working on."