After an exciting opening round in Qatar last weekend, the Superbike World Championship makes its only trip to the southern hemisphere when it visits the fast and flowing Phillip Island circuit for the Yamaha-sponsored Australian round.
Following a promising debut with the 2007 YZF-R1 in Qatar, Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team riders Troy Corser and Noriyuki Haga are looking to build on their fine start with a good performance on a track that should suit the R1's sweet-handling chassis.
Corser marked his debut with the official Yamaha team by winning the superpole event and finishing on the podium in race two, while both riders demonstrated the speed of the new R1.
For Corser, the Australian round is the one chance he will get to race in front of his home fans this season. The world superbike veteran actually made his debut at the same circuit 15 years ago in his first stint as a Yamaha rider. Speaking from last Saturday's race in Qatar, he commented: "We're off to Phillip Island next and I think my Yamaha will work really well there. It's a track I really like and I think we can bag a couple of good results there for sure. It's a pity about the first race today, we had a big vibration at the rear (caused by the tyre not gripping the rim correctly) but that's how it goes sometimes. It was so bad that I thought about pulling in, but we could still score some points. It was good to get on the podium in the second race but I guess that I am still a little disappointed, because I felt we could have been there in both races. But don't worry, we'll make up for it in Phillip Island!"
Haga too managed to score a fine result in the day's second race with a fourth position. He's due a good result on 'The Island'. The Japanese rider had his first win outside of Japan there in 1998, although to date that is his only victory Down Under. The official Yamaha squad, along with the nominated Pirelli tyre test teams from the other four manufacturers, tested at Phillip Island just over a month ago, something Haga hopes will help them get the most out of their bikes this weekend.
"We tested at Phillip Island in January," he says. "We were able to do a lot of laps and work on a setting for the race, so I hope that this will help us this weekend. Remember, we only had our first shakedown at the end of last year and we are learning more about it with every session. We learned a lot about the bike in Australia and, although we could not get good life from the front tyre, it was working very well in Qatar."
In the Supersport World Championship, Yamaha World Supersport team rider Kevin Curtain lies second in the championship following his second place in Qatar. The Australian was in spectacular form all weekend and managed to score pole position on Saturday. The R6 man looked impressive in the race too, leading the opening laps but had to settle for second due to a lack of rear end tyre traction. Now the veteran star has vowed to put on a big show for his legions of fans at Phillip Island. He said: "I don't believe in saying 'I'm going to win this or I'm gonna do that' because I believe that it can bring bad luck or bad karma. What I do know is that I am really fired up for my home race and will be giving it absolutely everything I've got. I've ridden this track so many times that if I'm going to win anywhere then it will be there. Our team has made some big progress with the bike over the winter, not so much in terms of outright power but certainly in terms of making it easier to ride. We've tested at Phillip Island earlier in the year and we were able to run some fast laps, so I'm really hoping for more of the same this weekend."
Curtain's team-mate and countryman Broc Parkes was also afflicted by grip problems in Qatar. The 25-year-old had to pull in when his rear tyre wore out but is keen to rack up his first points of 2007. "Qatar was disappointing," he said. "But we have to put that behind us. We had a great test at Phillip Island and it's always exciting to be racing at home."