The return of Bayliss
Let it be said: Troy Bayliss has not lost any of his efficiency in Superbike! The ex-world champion took advantage of the last tests in Qatar to prove to all his competitors that he was coming back to play for the title … And that’s good for the show !
It was during tests organized by Pirelli – the exclusive manufacturer of the Superbike and Supersport championships – that the Australian Troy Bayliss made a comeback with great fanfare: holder of the best time after three days of testing. on the Losail track in Qatar, the official Ducati demonstrated to his compatriot and reigning world champion, Troy Corser, that the 2006 title will be hotly contested…
This last test session of the year therefore allowed the teams to compete against each other and start the preparatory work, which becomes as essential as the short qualifying sessions before each race. Last year, the Suzuki Alstare’s excellent pre-season allowed them to monopolize the podiums and string together victories from the start, creating a gap at mid-season that their opponents were unable to fill despite big efforts (read our).
But this winter, Suzuki no longer stands out from the other official teams who are all keen to shine in a championship in which the interest of the public, the media and the sponsors is increasing even more than in MotoGP..
Bayliss: home sweet home !
The fastest man of the three days of testing is Troy Bayliss: defector from MotoGP and Superbike world champion in 2001 on Ducati 996, he has climbed 46 times on the SBK podium … including 22 times on the highest market ! The one who wrote some of the most beautiful pages of this championship – but who will never have marked MotoGP – is about to resume service without losing his style or his efficiency !
After rejoicing at the official announcement of his "back home … and i’m not talking about australia !", the 36-year-old rider did not take long to regain his bearings on a motorcycle he left three years ago. And if during his reunion in Jerez, the Ducati had given him the impression of find in his "good old armchair", the 999 fitted with new Ohlins suspensions proved particularly swift in Qatar, both in the hands of Troy and in those of his young teammate Lorenzo Lanzi.
The purpose of the tests was to introduce the pilots to the latest models of qualifying and race type tires. With the first, Troy Bayliss managed to complete the lap of the circuit in a record time of 1’58.66, less than two seconds above Capirossi’s pole position on the Desmosedici GP5 !
"I had a superb time with the qualifying tires, but the best thing is the progress Pirelli has made since the start of the year. I did a race simulation with a lot of lap times around 1’59, so everything is fine !", adds the Australian who took advantage of the absence on the last day of Corser, victim of gastric disorders..
For his part, Lorenzo Lanzi once again showed fierceness not only by recording the third fastest time behind the two Troys, but also by falling from the first day! "I am quite satisfied with my performance over the three days", said the young Italian recruit:"I was faster and faster, but I have to admit that my fall left marks". It remains all the same the last to be passed under the 2 min mark: a good omen for tifosis !
"The R1 faster than the Ducati" according to Pitt
The Ducatistes weren’t the only ones to release new Ohlins suspensions, as Team Yamaha Motor Italia riders also had them. Thus, Noriyuki Haga and Andrew Pitt were able to discover their new R1, whose engine has also been improved, in particular in terms of its reliability and its "smoothness" on the go-around..
"The new suspensions are very good. The front worked perfectly without you having to touch it! The rear is good too, so with a few changes we should make further progress", confided Nitro Nori, not unhappy to finally be able to rest a little before the resumption, on February 25, on the same circuit. The Japanese, as usual, only rode in race configuration and achieved a best time of 2’00.46, leaving his Australian teammate Andrew Pitt to test the qualifying tires.
Pitt had his best lap in 2’00.56 on the third day on qualifying gums but we especially remember his statement: "I appreciated that the few times I shot with Bayliss, my R1 was a little faster than his Ducati". Unverifiable information … which shows that the art of psychological warfare is no longer reserved for MotoGP riders !
Within Team Ten Kate Honda, the British James Toseland continues his training on a CBR which seems to pose the same dribbling problems as his MotoGP big sister, the RCV (read). The two pilots, James Toseland and Karl Muggeridge were indeed confronted with "chattering" problems: "we stumbled against that for a long time, but we found some Pirelli that helped us a lot"Says the English Superbike world champion in 2004.
Australian Karl Muggeridge, who is racing the CBR again this year, knew "perform fast and constant laps but not a truly stupendous one", he regrets. Regardless, boss Ronald Ten Kate is satisfied with his little guys:"we tested everything we wanted: swingarm, engine parts, ignition and injection system, front fork, etc. Karl and James are happy with the settings we found and we are definitely on the right track.", assures the team manager.
The Foggy reviewed from top to bottom
The pilots of the three cylinder FP1 had a lot to do during these tests: in addition to the new tires they tested new brakes, new suspensions, new wheels and a new electronic system while benefiting from an engine "in constant development".
Steve Martin, despite a recent kidney operation and some digestive discomfort, was able to run within a second of Andrew Pitt. "I am extremely happy to have tested everything right as it gave good direction, just in time for the Phillip Island testing in January where I would be 100% cured"enthuses the Australian who particularly appreciates his national track.
Craig Jones, from the Supersport championship, replaces McCoy and takes his bearings on his Superbike: "I am satisfied with what we have done during its tests, the evaluation of the new parts but also with my progress and the experience I am getting on the FP1, especially since it was my first visit to the circuit from Losail", says the British.
Best practice times in Qatar:
|Pilot||Team||Qualif tires||Racing tires|
|1.||Troy bayliss||Ducati Xerox||1’58.66||1’59.13|
|2.||Troy corser||Suzuki alstare||–||1’59.17|
|3.||Lorenzo Lanzi||Ducati Xerox||1’59.40||–|
|4.||Karl Muggeridge||Honda Ten Kate||2’00.09||2’00.81|
|5.||James toseland||Honda Ten Kate||–||2’00.20|
|6.||Yukio kagayama||Suzuki alstare||2’00.38||2’00.62|
|7.||Noriyuki Haga||Yamaha Motor Italia||–||2’00.46|
|8.||Andrew pitt||Yamaha Motor Italia||2’00.56||2’01.00|
|9.||Steve martin||Foggy Petronas||–||2’01.80|
|10.||Craig jones||Foggy Petronas||–||2’02.56|
For his part, the world champion Sebastien Charpentier performed particularly promising tests with a better time of 2’01.80, two seconds less than his own pole last year: a time close to those of the Superbike category. !
"These tests were very good with a grip very close to the one we had here last February", explains Sebastien."With the deep understanding of myself, the bike and the team gained this year, we feel very strong and confident for the 2006 season. !"
Could it be that General Seb succeeds in the unprecedented feat of retaining the Supersport title? You will know it by reading Moto-Net during the whole 2006 season, which begins on February 25 in Qatar (read)…
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