Yamaha World Superbike Team riders Ben Spies and Tom Sykes head to Brno this weekend for their first race on the Czech Republic circuit. Both Spies and Sykes are on confident form having given their 2009 R1 race bikes a thorough shakedown and test at the official World Superbike test at Imola last week. Spies comes to Brno just 14 points behind championship leader Noriyuki Haga with everything to play for whilst team mate Sykes has his eyes fixed firmly on the top five with five rounds left to run in the 2009 championship.
The Automotodrom Brno is a 5.403km circuit that features constant elevation changes and the fastest chicane in WSB. The uphill straight towards the last chicane features an incredible power sapping 7.5% gradient, which will test the strongest engines on the grid.
“We had a good test at Imola last week so I’m in a confident mood,” said Ben Spies. “Brno is yet again another new track for us so I’m really looking forward to running around the circuit this week and then getting out on the bike on Friday to get a feel for it. We only have ten races left now to the end of the championship so we need to make every one count. Everybody is going to be working hard to be up front this weekend so it’s going to be a tough race but I’m excited about it.” “I’m really looking forward to showing some more of my recent pace,” said Tom Sykes. “I’ve been getting faster and faster all year as we’ve resolved some issues with the set up and now I feel we’ve got a package I can use to challenge and stay with the front pack. I haven’t ridden Brno before but I think we can pick it up quickly on Friday and get cracking on the bike set up.”
Brno technically speaking according to Tom Houseworth, Ben Spies Crew Chief
“We’ve just finished a very productive test at Imola. We were working on some suspension components, a couple of new Pirelli tyres and the overall race setup of the bike. We have been having a small problem keeping the rear wheel of our Yamaha R1 on the ground during very heavy braking however the combination of our fork specification along with some of the components we tested at Imola should help with this issue for Ben moving forward. We will start the Brno weekend on bike 1 with a comfortable base setting (std link, offset and ride heights etc.) with the exception of the test components which we will start with straight away to get as much data as possible and make sure the feeling is the way we want to go. If everything feels good we will continue to fine tune our race setup paying attention to the weather as it’s possible that Bruno will be hot. It will be important to find the right tyre combination that will last the race, allowing us to be near the front.”
Brno technically speaking according to Sergio Verbena, Tom Sykes Crew Chief
“For Brno we’ll start with the same setting we used at Imola last week, which is similar to the Donington set up as well. It worked well for us in Italy so we’ll use that as a base. Brno is a smooth track, with fast chicanes and only one hairpin, so doesn’t necessarily need something special in the settings. We’re feeling confident because Tom had a good race pace in Misano and Donington, and also in Imola. It looks like the setting we found in Misano is working well everywhere, so that’s pretty much our base setting now, we just hope the temperature won’t be too hot!”
We are going to a really nice circuit so I think we can do well there,” said Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team Manager. “In the past Yamaha has worked well there and we’ve had a lot of podiums so I think we will continue to do well. When we moved from to Supersport to Superbike racing Brno was where we won our first race so it’s a significant place. The test at Imola last week also gave us some good results so we left there feeling optimistic and looking forward to this weekend.”
Yamaha World Supersport Team ready for Brno
Having tested briefly at the Czech circuit two weeks ago Yamaha World Supersport rider Cal Crutchlow is now familiar with the track layout so is ready to get stuck in on Friday and work on his weekend set up. Although only a one day test it was long enough for the British rider to not only get to grips with the circuit but to lap under the current track record, leaving the team in confident mood ahead of the weekend’s race.
For team mate Fabien Foret the one day test was the first time back on the circuit after a big crash in the 2008 season there left him out of contention for several rounds. Having re-acquainted himself Foret will be looking to put his demons behind him and take valuable points away from this weekend.
Both riders performed well at the Imola test last week, showing fast consistent pace at the top of the field. Crutchlow will be looking to increase his championship lead at Brno whilst Foret will be looking to make up for a DNF at Donington with a good point scoring finish on the podium in the Czech Republic.
“I can’t wait for this weekend,” said Cal Crutchlow. “I really enjoyed riding here a couple of weeks ago, I think the circuit really suits the Yamaha and I really enjoy the layout. My ankle is feeling much better after I injured it at Donington so I think I’m all fired up and ready to fight at the front for a win this weekend!”
“I’m really happy to be back here in top racing form,” said Fabien Foret. “It was a big crash for me here last year and I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel when I went back onto the circuit. I took it easy to start with and it was fine. I now need to get my head down this weekend and get onto the podium and take some good points for me. I hope it doesn’t rain!”
We know the bike set up is good enough for the lap record after Cal’s performance here two weeks ago so I think we can be confident,” said Wilco Zeelenberg, Yamaha World Supersport Team Manager. “We worked hard on the set up here a couple of weeks ago and adjusted the base setting a little bit for the track and it works well. It’s a long track to learn, you need some time to get up to the top speed so I’m happy Cal picked it up so quickly. Eugene and Kenan will be up there at the weekend and will be a big threat as always but of course we aim to be as strong as we have been for the last couple of rounds.”