WSB : Strong showing for Yamaha in first Silverstone qualifying – autom…

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Yamaha YZF-R1 WSB

WSB. Strong showing for Yamaha in first Silverstone qualifying

Round: 5 – United Kingdom

Circuit: Silverstone

Date: 26 May 2006

Temp: 17єC

Weather: Dry

Yamaha Motor Italia rider Noriyuki Haga shone in first qualifying at a damp and windy Silverstone today, ending the day in fourth place with team-mate Andrew Pitt an equally strong sixth.

Morning practice took place in wet conditions and although the track was mostly dry for the one-hour afternoon qualifying, the tricky conditions caught out many big name riders and led to two stoppages caused by riders crashing.

Haga, who gave the Yamaha YZF-R1 its first world superbike podium finish at Silverstone 12 months ago, looked comfortable in both the wet and dry conditions, setting the third fastest time in the rainy morning session. The Japanese rider declared himself happy with the basic set-up of his Yamaha but will work overnight with his team to further improve the machine ahead of Sunday’s two 28-lap races.

Pitt made a big improvement in the closing stages of the session to end as the day’s sixth fastest rider at one of his least favourite circuits. Having spent the session experimenting with the set-up of his YZF-R1, the Australian effectively switched back to his base settings to jump up the grid.

With quarter of an hour to go Yamaha Motor France’s Sebastien Gimbert topped the leader board. The Frenchman had suffered a spectacular crash in the morning practice, when he slid off his R1 going down the start-finish straight. The accident wrecked his machine and left him with abrasions on his back. Despite the handicap he finished the day 11th.

Yamaha Motor France’s Japanese duo had tougher days, with Norick Abe 16th and Shinichi Nakatomi 20th on his first visit to the circuit. Local wild-card Tommy Hill was 12th on another YZF-R1.

Grid positions will be decided in tomorrow’s superpole session for the top 16 riders from qualifying. With rain a strong possibility tomorrow morning, the superpole participants could well be decided on today’s times. Fastest rider today was championship leader Troy Bayliss (Ducati), ahead of world champion Troy Corser (Suzuki) and Fonsi Nieto (Kawasaki).

Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia)

Not so bad although I am a little bit angry not to get pole as I had a small problem on what should have been my fastest lap. The feeling with the bike is already good in both the wet and dry but we will work more tomorrow to try and make it better for the races.

Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia)

The track was a bit patchy: you’d go in on the dry but then hit a wet bit, but it went ok for us and I’m quite happy. We started the session off well but got a bit lost with the changes we made, before going back to basics to get the lap time. We’ve still got a bit of a problem with the bike wheelying too much but that’s the only point where I think I’m losing some time.

Yamaha YZF-R1 WSB

Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha Motor France)

I am happy with how things have gone today. The times are very close with just 0.7 second between me and the pole. It was good to be at the top of the timesheets but at the end I went out to test the race tyre rather than going for an improved time.

Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France)

This morning the feeling with the bike was not so good, but then I have never been able to feel comfortable with the superbike in wet conditions. The afternoon was not so bad but the conditions were quite strange, with many riders going down at one corner. Every lap I would see someone else go down there and as a result I was not able to fully attack that corner until the very end. I am still having some problems with the right hand I injured in Monza.

This might cause me some problems in the race, as there is a lot of hard braking at this circuit. I am happy to be in the top 16 as I will be in superpole if it rains tomorrow morning, although I hope it is dry and I can show my best.

Shinichi Nakatomi (Yamaha Motor France)

I had a crash at the same corner as all the other riders and this meant I could not be as high as I like. I went out on a different tyre option and it caught me out but I am not injured and hope we can have some dry conditions tomorrow.

A good day. Nori’s lap times are very consistent and he seem to be as fast as anyone, while Andrew made just a few changes to the set-up we have used at Monza and Mugello, suggesting that he has found a base setting that really works for him. He started out by following Toseland for a few laps but found that he could pass and go faster on his own.

Compared with last year he is looking very strong and I’m pleased because both the riders are happy with their set-ups and seem to have good tyre life around this circuit.

Yamaha YZF-R1 WSB
Yamaha YZF-R1 WSB
Yamaha YZF-R1 WSB

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