News 28 May 2009

WSBK: Spies ready for his home round with Yamaha

Yamaha Racing PR:

After a mixed race weekend in South Africa, The Yamaha World Superbike Team is heading to the Miller MotorSports Park in Salt Lake City in confident mood for the US round of the 2009 World Superbike Championship. Miller is a relatively new addition to the calendar, World Superbike visited for the first time last year. Ben Spies is no stranger to the track however, as an ex AMA Superbike multi champion both he and his crew chief Tom Houseworth know the track well. Spies has won five of the six AMA Superbike races held In Miller since the track opened in 2006. The American is clearly intent on adding Superpole and two US World Superbike race wins to his impressive rooky season tally.

“It’s awesome to be back home in the USA,” said Yamaha World Superbike Team rider Ben Spies. “This is my first trip home this year, so it’s been a bit crazy. After the ups and downs of Kyalami I’m really happy to be home and looking forward to Miller this weekend. It’s a great track and one I know well. It makes a big change to be heading towards a race with good track knowledge, this will be the first time this year I’ve gone to a track I’ve raced at before, and in front of a home crowd too. The team and I are working hard on the set-up, and I’m hopeful we can bring this one home for the fans here in the states.”

“Kyalami certainly didn’t go completely to plan,” said Tom Sykes. “I went into the race weekend fifth in the championship and was looking for fourth place. I’m still close but now in seventh position. Anyway, that’s all done now and I’m looking forward to the USA. I think both Ben and I are going to go very well there. The track is supposed to be very similar to Qatar so I’m quite excited, hopefully the Yamaha will work very well and we’ll get two strong results to get back on track and start to build towards a strong finish to the season.”

Miller Technically Speaking according to Tom Houseworth, (Ben Spies Crew Chief)

“Miller is a circuit where Ben and I have quite a bit of experience, it’s fast and flowing with just a couple tight corners and a very long straight. The only thing it has in common with Kyalami is elevation which reduces the engine power a bit. The setup we’re going to use will be a compromise between good corner entry speed and maximum grip, stable but quick transitions will be important in the fast first sector of the track. If we can get this area correct then the rest of the lap is usually good. The bikes will be set up just a bit different to Kyalami, bike 1 will use our standard base settings while bike 2 will have a different link to determine if we can achieve better grip which is always wanted. Our gearing set-up should be nearly there with just some fine tuning required. Once setup is close we’ll fine tune, you guessed it, the traction control. The start is very important at Miller. After the lights go off there is a very long straight to deal with so we will have to try many starts during practice and hope all the settings are correct to be near the front entering turn one. It’s a long race however so there is time to make our way to the front depending on the type of start we get. All in all it’s good to be home for a while, looking forward to seeing you all there!”

Miller Technically Speaking according to Sergio Verbena, (Tom Sykes Crew Chief)
“I’m sure we’re not going to use the settings from Kyalami, we made a lot of changes for the South African race because of the special track, Kyalami is very slow and bumpy and we had a lot of tyre problems there so we made a small revolution in the bike setting to try to solve these problems but didn’t find the perfect solution. We’re going to start with a setting similar to Assen and Monza and see how we get on. We’re still analyzing the recent race data because something’s not been working right in the last races, so we have to find solutions for our troubles and make some more progress.

“Anyway, Miller is a different track, and we’ll have different tyres there so we are more confident about the next races. Tom found Kyalami tough and had a few issues but is very confident about next week-end. We also hope to go on being the only rider who consistently scores points and is always top ten in the finish this year.

“The main elements still to improve on the new bike this year are acceleration and top speed, but you have to remember the engine is still at a relatively early stage of its development, as it has a different firing order to a normal inline four and we don’t have data to work on from the past so it’s all new. Also we are still looking for the correct balance of the geometry of the bike. When we find it, which we will do soon, you will see a big step forward on track.”

Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager
“Although Kyalami was not the best result for us both riders proved to be outstanding as they rode around the issues where possible and gave everything they could. We have continued to work hard to develop the bike and are confident we can take back some of the championship points this weekend and begin to close the gap on the lead again.”

Erwan Nigon will replace Yamaha GMT rider David Checa for the Salt Lake City race. Checa will return to the team again for the next Italian round in Misano.

You can now read the monthly columns of both Superbike riders and find out what they’ve been up to away from the track by logging on to and checking out the rider lounge section.

Due to the time difference, Superbike races will be run at 8pm and 11.30pm respectively CET on Sunday 31st May. The Supersport race will be at 9.25pm CET.

Supersport head to the US for the first Salt Lake City race

The Yamaha World Supersport Team head to the USA this week leading the World Championship as they get ready to race at the Miller Motorsports Park for the first time. The Supersport championship did not join the World Superbike teams when they raced at the Miller circuit last year. Whilst being new to most of the circuits so far this year has not proved to be a disadvantage for British rider and WSS rookie Cal Crutchlow, this does put him on a level playing field with the other riders as they are all new to the track. Rival Kenan Sofuoglu is the only exception to this as he raced World Superbike here last year.

Crutchlow arrives at Miller leading the championship with a margin of 13 points on Honda rider Eugene Laverty. Team-mate Foret left Kyalami with a DNF and no points after crashing out of third position in the African race and sits currently in 8th position as he prepares to tackle the US circuit for the first time.

“I’m really excited about racing at the Miller track,” said Cal Crutchlow. “South Africa was a really tough race, I tried as hard as I could but just couldn’t close the gap on Eugene once I got clear of the pack. He’s now the biggest threat for the championship at this time so I really want to go out there and work hard with the Yamaha team this weekend and hopefully win the race. We’ve still got some things to work out on the bike but we’re getting there.”

“I was really disappointed not to finish on the podium at Kyalami,” said Fabien Foret. “It was an avoidable mistake on my behalf and a lesson learnt. I’m putting it behind me and intend to continue with my race pace now I’m back on form and want to be at the front this weekend and in the points.”

Wilco Zeelenberg, Yamaha World Supersport Team Manager
“South Africa could have been better for us but in the end the target was finishing on the podium and we nearly did with both riders. It was a difficult first three or four laps and Cal missed out on being connected with Eugene at a crucial time. Eugene seems to be the main rival now for Cal to beat to stay ahead in the championship. Salt lake is a new one for the Supersport championship, it’s a fast track, and as we saw in Monza our engine is good on fast circuits.”