The Yamaha World Superbike Team head to Valencia for the first European round of the world championship in great shape with Ben Spies currently 2nd in the standings ten points behind leader Noriyuki Haga. The Ricardo Tormo circuit welcomes the Yamaha team as it celebrates its tenth anniversary of WSB this year, having featured on the championship calendar every year since 2000.
The season has started impressively for the Yamaha riders, in his first season in WSB Spies has already taken three race wins and 75 points from the two opening rounds in Phillip Island and Qatar whilst team-mate Sykes sits 6th in the championship behind fellow Brit Leon Haslam with 32 points.
Although both Spies and Sykes have never raced on the Spanish circuit they have proved quick to adapt to the tracks on the WSB calendar so far and are eager to get to grips with the first European round.
"I’m really looking forward to Valencia," said Ben Spies, "We’ve been having a couple of really strong weekends on the new bike and I’m feeling confident. We’re definitely in a good position for the season so far with more to go out and win. I’ve seen the Valencia circuit in the past and ridden a gentle 35 laps so I know my way round it a bit now. The way the 2009 YZF-R1 is working for me I think it should be a good track for us, it’s going to be hard to expect good results every weekend but we’ll keep trying and keep on pushing! It has to be said the bike has been awesome so far, the control and way it lays down its torque is amazing, I am loving riding it. Valencia is a different track to what we’ve ridden so far in Phillip Island and Qatar but I think we’ve got a good setup and it should work great here. Tom’s getting his confidence, we’re helping each other really well and he’s been great as team-mate. We are both looking forward to racing in Europe and having some fun!"
Said Sykes of the forthcoming weekend, "I’m really looking forward to getting into European races, I’ve tested at Valencia in previous years so I’ve had a start with the learning aspect of it. I’m feeling quite confident as I feel like I’ve got a good base setting on my R1. In Qatar we made little improvements here and there and as far as race distance is concerned the package works very consistently. Hopefully coming to Valencia we’ve put a few things together to make a nice improvement and we’ll be on it to win!"
Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha World Superbike Team manager said, "The development of the 2009 YZF-R1 is still proceeding, but as you can see it is already performing really well and winning on the track. We are ready for Valencia, we changed the gear box to be ready for the circuit, we have already got a set-up that works so we’re set to race! We are especially pleased with our performance so far this year as we are still looking for a title sponsor, being one of the top performers on track is great for raising our profile for potential sponsors."
"We are really confident in the abilities of the new YZF-R1 in Valencia," said Yamaha World Superbike Team Technical Chief Silvano Galbusera. "The new engine design including the crossplane crankshaft is giving our riders more useable power. The ability to lay down smooth torque and get the power down sooner through corners without giving less tire life has given the riders confidence to push on harder on track. We’re also very happy with the response of the riders to the strengthened frame of the bike, the balance and handling is improved, giving us an advantage."
Crutchlow and Foret ready for action in Spain
The Yamaha World Supersport Team spent two days testing in Valencia last week to iron out some issues with the bikes and prepare for the race weekend. New for 2009 rider Cal Crutchlow comes to Valencia 4th in the championship a mere 11 points behind leader Andrew Pitt. French team-mate Fabien Foret has had a mixed start to the year, currently in 12th position with nine points he comes to Valencia fresh from last week’s test and determined to move up the standings.
Crutchlow commented, "I’m excited about getting on to the Valencia circuit as it’s one I know better than the others so far. I feel if I can get a good result here it will keep the ball rolling in the European races. I’ve really been looking forward to doing the motor-home thing in Europe and just concentrating on racing and getting back to enjoying the championship flow."
"It was good to be on the track in Valencia last week," said Foret. "I took it easy as I know I have my race-pace back, and only did one day of testing as my shoulder is still sore, it’s important I give it time to recover before the next race. I’m feeling confident, it’s a big thing to come back from such a large crash last year but my pace is good and I’m confident in my speed and keen to race."
Yamaha World Supersport Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg said, "The weather was really good on our test here last week and we found a good rhythm and a good set up. We were happy to have the chance to be here to work through some issues we had and now we feel we’re happy and on the pace and ready for the race weekend."
New schedule changes for 2009 season
New schedule changes are in place for the 2009 season from Valencia onwards. The Superbike free practice will now start at 12.45pm on Friday, with the morning session being cancelled. The first Superbike qualifying session will take place at 16.15pm. The Supersport, Superstock 600 and Superstock 1000 classes will have just one qualifying session from Valencia onwards which will be scheduled for the Saturday. Friday sessions will be devoted solely to free practice.
Superstock gets underway in Valencia
Valencia also sees the opening round of the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup and European Superstock 600 Championship. 2008 Superstock 600 champion Loris Baz is back on a Yamaha again this year and will be starting the season in Superstock 1000 on the new YZF-R1.
Yamaha dominates across the water
Yamaha’s racing success in WSB is being echoed across the waters in the USA where American rider Ben Bostrom has kicked off the AMA series in style, taking the Daytona 200 by storm and winning the opening race of the championship in style on his Yamaha YZF-R6.