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Apr 19, 2006

Yamaha France Previews This Weekend's World Superbike Race At Valencia

Ready for Valencia

Last year, Norick Abe was fighting on the Valencia race track for third position, before he crashed unfortunately. This season, the Team Yamaha Motor France Ipone comes to the Spanish circuit with confidence after two good testing sessions. Shinichi Nakatomi and Lorenzo Alfonsi (who is replacing Sébastien Gimbert for this race) are also ready to do good.

World Superbike speed: An incredible progression

The majority of the riders is so much quicker this year than last year that it is unbelievable. Between 2005 and 2006, the difference is huge. Let us look at the first two races, not the lap times during Superpole or the races (depending too much on qualifying tyres or slipstream) but the total race time of the rider who finished for instance in 5th position. With the same weather conditions, the total race time of the rider who finished in 5th in Qatar in 2005 would allow him to finish only 15th this year. The total race time of the rider who finished in 5th in Phillip Island in 2005 would only allow him to finish 20th this year. This is a situation that is not seen very often in motorcycle racing, all categories included (For instance in the MotoGP class, the 5th total race time in Jerez in 2005 would allow again the 5th place this year).

Lorenzo Alfonsi to replace Sébastien Gimbert

Sébastien Gimbert will race this coming weekend the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Yamaha Motor France with David Checa and Garry McCoy. Before he is back with us for the Monza race on May 7, Gimbert will be replaced at Valencia by the Italian rider Lorenzo Alfonsi who took part with our team in the previous test session on the Ricardo Tormo circuit.

Lorenzo Alfonsi was Italian Champion in 1995 (minibikes) and 2000 (250cc, under 21), then finished 4th in the 2003 European Superstock Championship riding a Yamaha, behind Michel Fabrizio, Lorenzo Lanzi and James Ellison. In 2004, he won magnificently this 1000cc European Superstock Championship, still racing a Yamaha R1.

The Valencia circuit

The first Valencia World Superbike race was held in 2000. The circuit is next to the town of Cheste, 25 km from Valencia, 320 km from Madrid and 370 km from Barcelona. The "Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo" is 4,005 km long and between 12 and 13 meters wide. It has 9 left-hand turns and 5 right-handers, with radii ranging from 30 to 250 meters. The start-finish straight is 876 meters long. Maximum downhill camber is 5.33% with 3.58% uphill. Paddock area is 49,066 m2. Maximum seating capacity for spectators is 60,000, with room for a further 50,000 on the hills surrounding the circuit.

Valencia is a fascinating but tricky circuit. It's easy to get caught out by the many slow turns. It's certainly not the kind of track where a Superbike rider can really use his machine's power and speed. First gear has to be used several times and that always means extra care has to be taken. The track heats up the left hand side of the rear tyre. Especially in the double left-hander that leads down onto the start-finish straight and really puts the edge of the tyre under pressure. Valencia is a real stop-and-go circuit where the front tyre has to be good for hard braking and fast cornering.

An easier engine

A lot of work has been done since the Qatar and Phillip Island races. «The engine is now easier to use for the riders," says team principal Martial Garcia. "Regarding the top speed, we are now in the middle of the result page, which is kind of logical for standard bikes with kits. Now our riders have more comfort when they use the engines of our R1s."

February 6 and 7 test unofficial results (courtesy of Pirelli): 1. Bayliss (Ducati) 1'34.4 ; 2. Lanzi (Ducati) 1'35.6 ; 3. Toseland (Honda) 1'35.8 ; 4. Muggeridge (Honda) 1'35.9 ; 5. Neukirchner (Ducati) 1'36.4 ; 6. Abe (Yamaha Motor France-Ipone) 1'36.4; 7. Clementi (Ducati) 1'36.6; 8. Rolfo (Ducati) 1'36.6; 9. Borciani (Ducati) 1'36.7; 10. Foret (Suzuki) 1'36.9.

March 27 to 29 test unofficial results: 1- Bayliss (Ducati) 1'33.758 ; 2- Xaus (Ducati) 1'34.659; 3-Lanzi (Ducati) 1'34.848 ; 4- Corser (Suzuki) 1'34.933 ; 5- Martin (Foggy Petronas) 1'35.178 ; 6- Haga (Yamaha) 1'35.295"¦ 19-Abe (Yamaha Motor France-Ipone) 1'35.967 ; 23-Nakatomi (Yamaha Motor France-Ipone) 1'36.737 ; 24-Alfonsi (Yamaha Motor France-Ipone) 1'36.900

World Championship standings : 1-Troy Bayliss (Ducati) 75 points, 2-James Toseland (Honda) 74, 3-Troy Corser (Suzuki) 63, 4-Alex Barros (Honda) 55, 5-Andrew Pitt (Yamaha) 45"¦12-Norifumi Abe (Yamaha Motor France-Ipone) 14, 21-Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France-Ipone) 3.

Valencia Stats :

Practice record (2003) : 1'34.633 Hodgson (Ducati) 152,360 km/h 2003

2005 Yamaha Motor France practice times: Norifumi Abe : 1'36.862 / Sébastien Gimbert : 1'38.203

Race 1 results 2005: 1-Corser (Suzuki), 2- Vermeulen (Honda) 3- Kagayama (Suzuki) 4- Walker (Kawasaki) 5-Haga (Yamaha) 6- Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France)

2005 Yamaha Motor France race 1 results: Sébastien Gimbert : 6th Norifumi Abe : DNF

Race 2 results 2005: 1- Corser (Suzuki), 2- Vermeulen (Honda) 3- Walker (Kawasaki) 4- Haga (Yamaha) 5-Abe (Yamaha Motor France)

2005 Yamaha Motor France race 2 results: Norifumi Abe : 5th Sébastien Gimbert : 11th

Lap record (best race time 2003): 1'35.007 Hodgson (Ducati) 151,760 km/h

Round 4 of the Superbike World Championship : May 7, Monza (Italy)