The Yamaha World Superbike Team head back to Europe this weekend for the eighth round of the 2009 World Championship at the Misano circuit on the Adriatic coast of Italy. Expectations are high as the challenge for the title got closer following an incredible ride by American Ben Spies at his home circuit in Salt Lake City last month. Spies scored a textbook perfect double win in the Utah heat, proving yet again that the combination of the three-time AMA winner’s talents and the 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 have what it takes to go for the 2009 championship victory.
Spies team-mate Tom Sykes had mixed fortunes in the US but made big steps forward with bike set up which he hopes to capitalize on in the second Italian round of the championship, setting himself up for his home race at Donington the following week.
The Misano circuit is new to both riders, along with a number of other new entries to WSB this year, although the more experienced riders in the series will only be riding this re designed Misano layout for the second time after it was hugely overhauled in 2007, including a change of direction to run clock-wise, and a succession of right-handers at the end of the main straight.
“It’s great to be back in Italy again,” said Ben Spies. “It was awesome to be home for the Miller race last month, and a dream come true to win in front of my home crowd. Everything felt right at the weekend, I couldn’t have been happier. I’m excited about getting on the track at Misano, it’s another new circuit to learn which is cool. The Italian fans are amazing which will also make this a special race for us as a team. We need to do well here to keep the championship challenge alive, and I’m confident we can.”
“I’m very happy to put the US behind me,” said Tom Sykes. “There’s no denying we had a couple of issues but I think we’re past it. We know everything works well on the bike and we have the pace to run at the front. I’m very much looking forward to Misano now, we’ve got a couple of things we want to try on the bike so let’s hope it works and the track suits my riding style. I’m going in to the weekend feeling confident, I know the team can do a good job so if we can crack it we can get up there. I think this weekend will be the turning of the corner and setting me up for Donington and the rest of the season.”
Misano technically speaking according to Tom Houseworth, Ben Spies Crew Chief
“It’s going to be tough to repeat the weekend we had at Miller, a circuit where Ben and I had lots of local knowledge. Misano is another circuit we have never seen.The track seems a bit tight with a very fast corner or two which will require quick handling along with stability. For the first session we’ll start with a solid base line set up along with our base tyres so Ben can get used to the track and figure out where he is going. He is very good learning new tracks so by the first qualifying session we are usually up to speed. The first qualifying session is where we may try some changes if Ben is uncomfortable with the settings we started with. Because we have never seen this circuit both bikes will be very similar as far as settings go. Once we know where we are going on the circuit and the most comfortable bike is picked and set up, we’ll figure out the race rubber, fine tune the traction control, get a good start and hopefully be at the front in both races! Hope to see ya there.”
Misano technically speaking according to Sergio Verbena, Tom Sykes Crew Chief
“After the race at Miller, I think we’re much more ready and feeling confident about the upcoming Misano race. When we were in the US at Miller unfortunately we didn’t have the end race results we were expecting to come away with. We had some problems and were struggling to find a good setting. When Sunday came we found some good solutions and made improvements, but the race was compromised by start position on the grid. We are very confident about Misano, we found some great solutions for the set up in the US that gave more confidence to Tom, so we have a good base setting for the track. We have effectively changed the balance of the bike which now suits his riding style a lot more. We’ll use the first sessions to confirm the improvements we’ve found for the bike, then work on perfecting the set up for the Italian track with Tom before looking at tyre choices for the weekend. It looks like the track temperature is going to be very high so tyre choice is going to be a key issue for the race. We are confident Tom will be back in the front positions over the next couple of rounds.”
“Misano will be a very hot race,” said Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager. “It is a really tough circuit with many corners and short straights. I think it will be a very hard race for everybody. I’m curious because our previous bike was always fast there during the race but we struggled with tyre life problems. Now with the new 2009 R1 bike we are confident we can overcome this as the smooth torque delivery means we can work the tyres harder without compromising so much on tyre life. After the Miller race the championship is more open, we will do all we can from here to the end of the season to try and catch Nori.”
Yamaha World Supersport head to Misano in confident form
After a tough race in the USA the Yamaha World Supersport Team head to Misano in confident mood, the circuit has traditionally been very well suited to the R6 and the team has performed well there in recent years. The team fought hard to find a good set up in the US for the Salt Lake City races, with riders Crutchlow and Foret’s riding talents shining through to bring home valuable points from a difficult race weekend.
“I was pleased with the podium result from Miller,” said Cal Crutchlow, “Because we struggled over the weekend there. I’m hoping to come here to Misano and learn another new circuit and am looking forward to the challenge. There’s no reason why we can’t be up there, we’ve got a good fighting chance to win again. I think the biggest threat this weekend will be the Ten Kate boys who look strong and obviously Eugene again. We can’t discount others though, including Lascorz and also my team-mate Fabien. I’m looking forward to the race, it’s going to be a battle!”
“It’s great to be back in Europe,” said Fabien Foret. “I love the Misano track, last year I started on the front row but got pushed wide on the first corner and dropped way back but managed to make up ten places over the race to finish fourth. This year I’ll be watching to get through the first corner with no mistakes and am confident I can get onto the podium. I’m feeling good, I’m really happy with the bike set up which the team have been working hard on with me so it should be a good weekend.”
Wilco Zeelenberg, Yamaha World Supersport Team Manager
“We’ve actually worked quite hard the last couple of weeks to prepare for Misano and Donington. On the technology side we’ve been trying hard to create the best solutions for more engine performance. We’ve possibly found some extra performance for the last half of the season which is great. It’s a very important moment as it’s only three rounds before the big summer break. Misano and Donington will be critical for the rest of the season so we’re focused and ready. Set up wise Misano is not such a big issue, we have good gearing for Misano and compared with Miller we don’t expect any problems. For the suspension set up we have good data from last year so we’re confident about that. It will be tough though. As we saw in Miller everyone is up to speed, so let’s see how we come out of the next two rounds. Both riders are realizing it’s a critical point so they are very focused. I’m really proud of the team as they’ve worked really hard and put in their full 100% over last two weeks to give us the best possible chance for the rest of season.”