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Yamaha Complete Phillip Island Test Ahead of Season Opener
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team has concluded its pre-season preparation ahead of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship with a two day official test at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. Pleased with the performance of his YZF-R1, Alex Lowes finished the eight hours of track time sitting eighth in the combined times having concentrated on race simulation for the duration of the test.
Overcoming the setback of torrential rain from Monday’s opening sessions, Tuesday’s action provided the opportunity for Lowes to thoroughly test the long-run pace of his Yamaha, showing impressive consistency across the morning’s 18-lap sequence. As the afternoon temperatures rose, the Briton set out to complete a full 22-lap race-distance to analyse the Pirelli compounds, again with promising times and data collected.
Having capitalised on the best weather conditions during Monday’s late afternoon showing, Michael van der Mark concluded his first day on the Yamaha Superbike fourth in the combined times, setting a 1’32.440 on his 19th of 25 laps. Recovering quickly from a crash during the second day’s morning run, the Dutchman continued his progress with the YZF-R1 throughout the final two hours, completing his final test with a 1’31.936 set on his second machine, and sitting 13th in the overall standings. Van der Mark heads into his debut race weekend with a clear direction of progress highlighted and confident of his team’s abilities to deliver.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team now looks towards the inaugural race weekend of the 2017 season, the Yamaha Finance Australian Round. Situated 140kms south of Victoria’s state capital, Melbourne, the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit houses 12 corners within its impressive and undulating layout and provides breath-taking views from its clifftop location overlooking the Bass Straight. The Australian track is a favourite of riders and fans alike, with its unique nature promising non-stop action and close racing throughout the two 22-lap battles. Lowes and van der Mark take to the 4,445m circuit at 09:45 local time on Friday 24th February for the first free practice session of the three-day weekend, with the opening race scheduled for 15:00 on Saturday.
Sunday’s climax, also scheduled for 15:00, promises to be one-to-watch as it heralds the debut of WorldSBK’s new grid format. The podium sitters from Saturday’s opening contest will commence the second race from the third row, but in reverse order, with the victor now starting in ninth. The fourth placed rider will be granted automatic promotion to pole position for the following day, with fifth to ninth place finishers assembling behind on the front two rows. Riders finishing Saturday’s race from 10th onwards will continue to line up in the order determined by their Superpole qualification.
8th / 1’31.629 / 106 laps
“The team have done a great job today. I feel good on the R1, we have some clear areas to work on but we’ve completed two race simulations and I enjoyed it a lot. There are definitely some things I can still improve but after missing most of yesterday due to the weather, we managed to do a lot of laps today which gives us plenty of information for the team and myself to think about for the coming weekend. Over the whole of winter testing we have done a good job, so we can relax for two days now and look forward to the start of the year.”
Michael van der Mark
13th / 1’31.936 / 88 laps
“We changed the bike a lot this morning compared to yesterday but I didn’t feel the big change I was expecting so we struggled a little bit in the first session. I had a big crash in turn eight when I lost the front so after that I went out on the second bike. I set my fastest lap this afternoon on the second machine but I still wasn’t completely happy with the set up, so we are still looking for the improvement I am after. I followed Alex this afternoon and I am clear with what we have to improve so now we have to check through the data to allow me to turn better and provide the confidence for the race weekend. I am sure we will find the solution, but I was hoping to have already made the step by the end of today’s test.”