Billy McConnell is setting his sights on the 2009 Fuchs-Silkolene British Supersport title as he kicked off his preparations for the new year with the Map Raceways Yamaha team.
McConnell joins the Supersport class this season after a stint on the MSS Discovery Kawasaki in Superbikes, where he will be joined by AJ Venter and Lee Johnston in the team that finished second in the 2008 standings with Hudson Kennaugh.
Shaking down the Yamaha R6 at the Spanish Cartagena circuit, McConnell was pleased with his first impressions of the bike and is looking forward to proving competitive in 2009.
“It was a good shake down with the team and it was also good for bonding with my new team,” the Aussie rider said. “Map Raceways already had a good set-up from last year so we just had some changes to the electronics and the motor. We got down to some creditable lap times and it was a very positive test.
“I concentrated on getting a setup and working with my tyres plus I had to remember how to race a 600cc after being on a Superbike for a season. It's great to be starting the season injury-free and with some testing under my belt. I'd like to give the championship a run for its money but there is a lot of competition. I know I'll be trying hard for sure.”
Venter, meanwhile, was pleased to get close to McConnell on times, as well as benefit from some of his experience too.
“The Map Raceways Yamaha is awesome. Billy was on quick times and I was getting close. It was a good shake down plus our sponsors came along and enjoyed it too. At the end of each day I'd go out with Billy and he showed me some lines which was good as he helped me a lot and I went one second faster than the team did at last year's test.”
“It was a really positive test I thought I'd be a bit rusty not having been on a bike since last year. So for the first day I just went out on old tyres and got back up to speed,” added reigning National Superstock 600 Champion Lee Johnston.
“Everyone on the team gets on well both Billy and AJ are good lads so everyone is happy and as you know when you are happy you are fast. You couldn't get a nicer team boss than Steve so it was good.”