Yamaha’s WorldSBK teams signed off the 2018 season with a positive and productive test at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain today. Pata Yamaha WorldSBK riders Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark completed an intensive test schedule as part of Yamaha’s ongoing development program, while Sandro Cortese and Marco Melandri took advantage of the two days to test for the first time the YZF-R1 machines they’ll campaign in GRT Yamaha WorldSBK colours next season.
For Lowes and van der Mark the focus of the test was on evaluating geometry, suspension and hardware changes, while also working with Yamaha engineers on improvements to the electronics strategies. The two riders declared themselves satisfied with the progress made over the two days, having taken advantage of the almost perfect testing conditions to work their way through an extensive testing program.
Lowes made a significant step forward today to end the final test of 2018 second on the timesheet, while van der Mark was satisfied with his pace over the course of the two days, despite still feeling the effects of the left scaphoid he fractured in an FP1 crash at the final race in Qatar.
For the GRT Yamaha team the Jerez test was a resounding success. The team will step up to the WorldSBK category for the first time in 2019, with reigning Supersport World champion Cortese racing alongside experienced campaigner Melandri.
The team’s technical staff quickly got to grips with running the YZF-R1 machines with which they’ll contest the 2019 Superbike World Championship, and the same was true of the two riders.
Melandri was quick to build confidence and pace with the YZF-R1, a bike he hasn’t raced since 2011, while Cortese impressed with the speed with which he adapted to the WorldSBK machine, having spent the previous seasons racing middleweight 600cc bikes.
Both the Pata Yamaha and GRT Yamaha WorldSBK teams will return to action early in 2019, with preseason testing getting underway in Jerez on 23rd January.
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
“It’s been a good two-day test here in Jerez and we managed to work our way through what was a pretty big list of things, some positive some not so much, but that’s what testing is for. Yesterday we worked on the front of the bike and today on the rear, before putting together the best combination of the two. I was quite happy with how I felt on the bike today; we’ve highlighted two main areas that we want to focus on at the January tests, so it was good to end the season on a positive note. A massive thank you to the guys in the team for all their hard work this year; now we’ve got some time to recharge the batteries before getting back to it here in Jerez in January.”
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
“It’s been a really interesting test, but it’s a shame that I’m still not fully fit after sustaining a wrist injury in the final race in Qatar. Still, we completed a lot of work here in Jerez; the first day we had a long list of things to try and I didn’t really feel comfortable on the bike, but today was much better. Again, we were trying many things, mainly with the geometry and suspension but also the electronics. This afternoon I managed to find my rhythm, improve lap by lap and we made some steps forward. Initially we were struggling a little on corner entry, but at the end we found quite a good solution. I’m really happy with the end of the second day and I’m already looking forward to January.”
GRT Yamaha WorldSBK
“I am really pleased with my first WorldSBK test with the new team and with the Yamaha YZF-R1. It was a special experience for me because I’ve never raced a superbike before, but I think we made a big step over these two days and I now have a much better understanding of how to race this bike. Of course, I’m still facing a steep learning curve, and I also need to prepare my body for the demands of racing this bigger bike, as I can feel it wasn’t ready after two full days on track here! Now I understand how I have to work with this bike and I am really looking forward to returning to Jerez with the team in January.”
Yamaha Road Racing Manager
“This has been a very positive test, from more than one perspective. With the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK team, our reference team in WorldSBK, we were able to evaluate new hardware and start to define the specification of our 2019 machine. Together with his crew Alex worked his way through a very detailed test plan and we achieved our goal of coming away from this test with a clear direction for development. Michael’s test was compromised somewhat by his injury, but we will confirm the direction with him in January, once he’s back to full fitness. Overall it was a positive test with the Pata Yamaha riders, both of whom showed good pace here in Jerez, and it means we are on target to improve our consistency in 2019 and be in a position to fight for podium finishes at every track. The step up to WorldSBK by GRT Yamaha in 2019 is an important milestone in our project. It doubles the number of YZF-R1 machines on the grid but, more importantly, it underlines Yamaha’s commitment to providing a progression path for young riders that stretches from national R3 championships all the way up to the FIM Superbike World Championship; a fundamental aim of our racing program. Bringing together Sandro and a rider as experienced as Marco at GRT Yamaha is already working well, with both team and riders impressing with how quickly they’ve adapted to this new challenge. It required a huge effort from everyone at Yamaha Motor Europe to realise this project, but already we can see those efforts paying dividends.”