Laverty drives faster than Biaggi !
Last night in Australia, Supersport vice world champion Eugene Laverty managed to beat Superbike world champion Max Biaggi! Admittedly, the Irishman took advantage of soft tires alone … But for a rookie, the performance remains remarkable !
While the seven mercenaries from Portimao were finally enjoying a well-deserved rest (read), four other 2011 World Superbike entrants continued their game on the other side of the world…
It is on the no less beautiful course of Phillip Island that the official Aprilia (Biaggi and Camier) and Yamaha (Laverty and Melandri) riders met at the start of the week to test, refine, correct and test their motorcycles for the upcoming 2011 season.
Leader the first two days (with lap times of 1’32.4 Monday then 1’32.3 Tuesday), Max Biaggi was surprised this third and last day by the rain … and by the promising Eugene Laverty !
Indeed, "Youdjin" was the only man to draw the soft gums early enough to take advantage of them. Thus, the newcomer in the category is ahead of his little comrades on the timesheet – unofficial, but still published !
By completing the Australian circuit in only 1’31.5, or half a second of the record held by our national Regis Laconi, the Irish rider confirms his rapid adaptation to the Superbike category. Laverty admitted to having aches at the end of the first day, but they were worth it !
According to him, the second day of testing really allowed us to take a step forward: "so far we’ve only had a day of testing ‘twice’ so the second day here really gave me some ownership of the bike.", note n ° 50.
Unlike its commercial version which will not move one iota between 2010 and 2011, the "new" R1 from Mondial Superbike offered a new weight distribution in Australia and was equipped with the very latest Ohlins fork, new engine parts, ‘a new saddle and a new tank design.
On the other hand, "the motorcycle adopted the standard fuel injectors and fuel pump, in accordance with the new regulations", assures us the official Yamaha team.
In the end, the Yam ‘2011 already seems perfectly sharp: "we have confirmed that the bike is quite good and has great potential", warns Andrea Dosoli, the new manager of the Blues, e"we are happy to see her maintain her times in race simulation".
Melandri is a fast learner !
Last in the standings, Marco Melandri is not for all that lost since he only yields to his former Moto GP Grand Prix sidekick, Max Biaggi, only three tenths of a second. After a day of testing in Valencia last month, the n ° 33 has obviously quickly integrated the operation of a Superbike and its Pirelli tires. !
However, "the differences between a MotoGP and a Superbike are huge", indicates the Hedgehog of Ravenna:"the bike moves a lot, the quickest turns are taken differently but, step by step, it all improves".
A "brilliant" illustration of the difficulties he encountered in fast curves: riding his R1, Marco injured his finger when he fell on the long left which commands the straight line, this same curve which he devoured by gliding in just one hand in the rain when he won the 2006 Australian GP with the RC211V…
"The track is difficult and we did well, I think we will be very strong in the opening race next year", persuades himself the rookie – all the same 250 world champion and vice-champion of MotoGP in 2005…
Aprilia are already ready
For its part, the official Aprilia team was also testing new elements on its motorcycle: a new Ohlins fork – tested and approved by the Roman Emperor himself! -, a new swingarm, a new tank and other small details.
Despite the strong wind and the rain, "we managed to review 90% of the things we wanted to test", explains Max Biaggi. No doubt disappointed not to have been able to exploit his soft tires, the reigning world champion is fully satisfied with his pace on the race ones.
"There is probably still a bit of work to be done, but we got some things in there and I think we will be back in February (the week before the race, with all the other teams) with a competitive set.", warns Max !
Finally, Leon Camier is rewarded with the same time as Melandri: more than his lap times, the youngster – but tall, he is 1.88 m tall! – English wanted "continue to work on the ergonomics, to see if I can feel more comfortable on the bike".
Recently recovered from a wrist injury and slowed down his first day at Phillip Island by recalcitrant RSV4s, Aprilia’s # 2 crashed into a seagull on day two! But none of this was enough to dent the motivation of the British champion !
This last 2010 mission now fulfilled, Leon has planned to stay a bit in Australia to train with a certain Casey Stoner – sorry – before returning to Europe to spend the holidays with his family..
Unofficial chronos of practice at Phillip Island (29-30 / 10 and 01/12)
- Eugene Laverty (IRL) – Yamaha YZF-R1: 1 ‘31.5 (soft tires)
- Max Biaggi (ITA) – Aprilia RSV4 Factory: 1 ‘32.1
- Leon Camier (GBR) – Aprilia RSV4 Factory: 1 ‘32.4
- Marco Melandri (ITA) – Yamaha YZF-R1: 1 ‘32.4
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