Former MotoGP star Marco Melandri has starred on debut with the Yamaha World Superbike Team, lapping under the official lap record at Valencia in Spain.
Melandri, who has endured a difficult few years in MotoGP, set a best lap of 1:33.9 on qualifying tyres, just a few tenths off Cal Crutchlow’s Superpole time of 1:33.615 set earlier this year.
The current Valencia race lap record is a 1:34.6199 set by Noriyuki Haga. On race tyres, Melandri’s best was a reported 1:34.28.
“It was a very good first day,” the Italian said. “In the beginning it was a completely different feeling to a MotoGP bike, much bigger! Lap by lap the feeling got better and better and I really enjoyed it.
“I was riding smoothly and I was especially happy with the Pirelli tyres, I got a really good feeling for the bike with them.
“I love the engine, it was impressive so I am very excited to go to Australia and carry on.”
The session was Melandri’s first opportunity to ride the Yamaha YZF-R1 and also his first day working with his new team.
Riding on the Pirelli tyres for the first time, the Italian adapted quickly, spending the majority of the day on the 2010 bike to get acquainted with the R1 and give the team time to make basic set up changes to fit his physical shape on the bike.
Melandri’s new teammate Eugene Laverty got straight down to business today.
Having already experienced the 2010 R1 at the Mangy Cours Official World Superbike test three weeks ago he took the opportunity to spend some time not just on the 2010 bike but also on the new 2011 YZF-R1 race bike.
Laverty was able to provide valuable data for the team in preparation of the upcoming test at Phillip Island in Australia at the beginning of December. His best lap was a 1:34.9.
“I’m feeling really comfortable with the bike,” Laverty said. “At Magny Cours I didn’t want to judge too much by one track, Valencia is very different so to feel good here as well is very positive.
“I rode the 2011 bike and we managed to gather a lot of really useful data to help prepare for the next test at Phillip Island.
“I’m feeling really positive, I think we’re heading in the right direction to have a very competitive bike for the new season.”
The new YZF-R1 follows a design philosophy of reduced weight and optimal weight balance for greater traction. The bike tested today also featured the new for 2011 Ohlins front forks, tested by both riders.
The bike adheres to the 2011 FIM regulations for the championship, featuring standard fuel injectors, fuel pump and fuel regulators.
The test was the first track outing for new team manager Andrea Dosoli, joining the team for 2011 in place of Massimo Meregalli who moves within the Yamaha family to work with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team.