05 WSB -> Yamaha Report
World Superbike 2005 - Round One - Losail - Final Qualifying - Yamaha Report
Weather: WetFebruary 25th, 2005
Yamaha riders will occupy four of the top seven places on the grid for tomorrow's opening round of the Superbike World Championship at the Losail circuit in Qatar.
Yamaha Motor France's Sébastien Gimbert was the early pace setter in a superpole session run under wet weather regulations, giving each rider a maximum of 12 laps in which to set their best lap. The arrival of the rain coincided with the start of the 50 minute session and consequently all the riders rushed to put in a quick lap before returning to the pit box. The Yamaha Motor France rider set a benchmark 2 1'889 before returning to his garage to wait and see if the weather would improve sufficiently to allow his rivals to challenge his lap times. Régis Laconi (Ducati) and Troy Corser (Suzuki) eventually put in quicker laps to relegate the Frenchman to third, with Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) fourth.
Yamaha Motor Italia riders Andrew Pitt and Noriyuki Haga will start tomorrow's opening round in fifth and seventh places respectively. Both riders made a good tactical decision, leaving the pits early to avoid the worst of the traffic and weather and establish an early lap time. Pitt's best of 2: 02.670 was good enough to hold fourth place until Laconi put in his fast lap at the end of the session.
Sandwiched between the Yamaha Motor Italia duo is the R1 of Spanish privateer Jose Luis Cardoso. Gimbert's team-mate Norick Abe was less fortunate in his timing and will start his first superbike race from the fourth row of the grid, in 15th place. Ivan Silva was another of the many Yamaha riders showing well in Qatar, the Spanish rider finished ninth fastest on his lightly modified R1.
Wet weather, a surprise for many at this desert location, has restricted running time for the riders and made it difficult to find ideal settings for tomorrow's two 18 lap races. The morning session on both days has been run in wet conditions, meaning that qualifiers for today's superpole session were based on yesterday's qualifying times.
Grid positions for tomorrow's Supersport World Championship round were determined by yesterday's times. Although the track was drying out after the morning downpour, conditions did not improve enough to allow any of the front runners to improve their times. Yamaha Motor Germany's Kevin Curtain did set the third fastest time of the session, but his best was still almost two seconds slower than yesterday's time. He will start the race from fifth on the grid, with team-mate Broc Parkes alongside him on the second row of the grid, in seventh place.
Sébastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France IPONE) - third, 2: 01.641 "I am used to working in endurance racing so the changeable conditions we had today are quite usual for me. The lap I put in at the beginning of the session was perfect, and on a race tyre too. I feel we have a good set-up for the race and good tyre life, so I am looking forward to tomorrow."
Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia) - fifth, 2: 02.670 "I am a little disappointed to have been knocked off the front row so late in the session but if someone had said to me this morning that I could qualify fifth then I would have gladly taken it. We made a lot of changes overnight. The team made some changes to the gearbox and we changed the engine mapping back to how it was at the test here last week. We've lost a lot of track time because of the weather but we have found a consistent race set-up and I am much happier with the bike today."
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia) - seventh, 2: 02.766 "Still the feeling from the front is not so good. The weather was difficult but we found a little improvement in superpole. I was using a qualifying tyre so I am not so sure how it will feel in the race. Tomorrow I hope it is sunny as we still have some things to try in warm-up. I still need to get a better feeling with the bike and we need a little more power but I will try to get the best possible result tomorrow."
Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France IPONE) - 15th, 2: 04.354 "This was my first superpole and the conditions were quite difficult. I was able to put in some consistent laps but I made a mistake and that possibly cost me a faster time."
Yamaha's superbike riders demonstrated the potential of the YZF-R1 at the opening qualifying session of the first round of the 2005 Superbike World Championship.
R1 riders occupy two places on the provisional front row of the grid with Spanish Formula Xtreme champion Jose Luis Cardoso second and Yamaha Motor France's Sébastien Gimbert fourth. Cardoso's time of 2'1.388 is just over one tenth of a second slower than provisional polesitter Troy Corser (Suzuki).
Yamaha Motor Italia's Noriyuki Haga and Andrew Pitt ended the day ninth and 12th in the standings, happy with the progress made during the day if not their provisional qualifying positions.
All but a few riders had ventured out for the morning's free practice session, which was held in wet conditions. Because of this the track lacked grip in the qualifying session, causing the riders to spend much of their time adjusting their machines' set-up.
Haga's best time of 2'2.687 came on his final lap of the day and took him ahead of defending champion James Toseland (Ducati), while Pitt was unlucky to run into heavy traffic on his final run. The Australian had been lying sixth going into the final minutes of the session, but was shuffled back to 12th as the pace heated up.
Gimbert's team-mate Norick Abe, like Pitt a class rookie despite his considerable experience, clocked up more laps than any other rider (24) as he adjusts to his R1 after spending over a decade in Grands Prix. The Japanese rider finished the day just behind Pitt, in 13th, with a best of 2'2.868.
Second qualifying takes place tomorrow morning, with the afternoon superpole session deciding the final grid positions.
Yamaha Motor Germany riders Kevin Curtain and Broc Parkes got their 2005 Supersport World Championship underway by respectively setting the fifth and seventh fastest times in today's first qualifying session at the Losail International Racetrack in Qatar.
Heavy rain meant that both riders completed just a handful of laps in the morning's free practice session and although the track was dry for qualifying, conditions proved slippery as the sand and dirt washed onto the racing line. Curtain set a best lap time of 2'5.196 with Parkes just over a second behind on 2'6.436.
French rider Sébastien Charpentier (Honda) set the fastest time in today's session with a best of 2'3.841.
Sébastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France) - fourth, 2' 2.217 "I feel positive about the rest of the weekend. The times are all very close but we have the bike working well and are able to do consistent lap times - at the end of the session I did three fast laps in a row."
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia) - ninth, 2' 2.687 "Not so bad today. The bike is still very new so always we are finding new things to improve. Tomorrow I hope we can find some improvements through the suspension settings. The engine is very fast and has good torque, so if we can make the suspension a little better we can really fight on Saturday."
Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia) - 12th, 2' 2.769 "It was a shame we couldn't ride in the morning session as we tried some different settings from the weekend's test. Perhaps tomorrow we will go back to the engine mappings we used last week. Where I'm struggling is in the third sector. I'm losing over half a second there so we will have to look at the gear ratios and how we can make an improvement there tomorrow."
Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France) - 13th, 2'2.868 "We did a lot of laps today and although I am in 13th place the gap to the leading riders is quite small. I am quite happy with how things went. Every session I am learning more about the bike and the championship. We decided not to use a qualifying tyre today so I know that I can find more time tomorrow."
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia)
"At Phillip Island I learned much about the R1 but some things I could not change because we did not have the parts in Australia. Everything I have asked the team to do, they have done. We were not going for fast lap times but this is not a problem because I already know the engine is very fast. We have a few small changes to try in Qatar but it is normal and I am looking forward now to the race."