New Yamaha Sterilgarda signing Eugene Laverty stunned with the fastest World Superbike testing lap at Magny-Cours on Wednesday as class of 2011 assembled on their new teams and bikes.
A dry track and fabulous sunshine delivered good track conditions for the riders testing at Magny-Cours in France on Wednesday, allowing some strong times to be set and a lot of work to be carried out as they prepare for a new World Superbike season barely a few days after the end of the old one.
A consistently high place was set in the afternoon sessions by Eugene Laverty (Yamaha Sterilgarda), in his first Superbike ride. Laverty’s best lap was a 1:38.8 despite limited time after Tuesday’s sessions were rained out, just one tenth slower than Cal Crutchlow’s fastest race lap of the weekend on Sunday.
“A great first test on the Yamaha,” said Laverty. “I really surprised myself, it’s not often I exceed my own expectations as I’m very realistic normally. I really didn’t expect to go quite as quick or feel quite as comfortable so soon.
“I didn’t want to do anything silly and give the team the wrong impression so have just been taking it step by step learning the bike. I thought I would have to do more laps to get a good feeling but felt pretty good by lunchtime today.
“To have a good base leaving the first test and got over the nervousness is great. The team has made me feel very welcome – the working relationship is great so I’m looking forward to continuing into the race season next year.”
Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) rode hard from the start in his new team, spending most of his time on the 2010-spec S1000RR, and going for a fast time right at the end of play. His best was a 1:39.2, faster than Troy Corser’s best race lap on Sunday.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Katsuaki Fujiwara (KHI Test Rider) set good times for such a new bike as the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, with Sykes the fourth fastest rider with a 1:39.3 – half a second faster than his best race lap last weekend.
The test marked the public debut of the 2011 model ZX-10R Superbike, with Sykes in charge of development while Queenslander Chris Vermeulen continues to recover from knee surgery.
“I am happy with this test because our bike is really new and we are up against bikes with two and three years of development,” Sykes said. “Overall, on our race run this morning I did some 1:39 laps and low 1:40s, where in the race on the 2010 bike I only achieved one 1:39 and rest were in high 1:40s.
“We are not worried about the outright lap time at the moment. We have a couple areas where we need to keep working on. Losing the first day was no help to us but we are already fast.”
The new-spec BMW S1000RR, complete with stubby exhaust pipe, redesigned fuel tank and new engine spec, saw Haslam’s teammate Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) finish the test fourth quickest with a 1:39.9.
Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia Pata Racing Team) got through a lot of work today, but fell late in the session, without injury. He finished early, after going back out for a short time after his fall. The Japanese standout was fifth quickest with a 1:40.0.
Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare) rode for most of the day in his single bike team on the GSX-R1000, matching Haga’s time to wrap up his maiden test with the Italian team.