Yamaha's star rookie line-up of Ben Spies and Tom Sykes head into this weekend's Phillip Island season opener in confident mood, with both encouraged by their pace in last weekend's test at the Australian circuit.
Three-time AMA Superbike champion Spies ended the final day of testing with a best time of 1min 32.36sec, putting him 0.2 of a second off 'fastest' rider Michel Fabrizio (depending on Johnny Rea's time).
“It was a good test for me,” said Spies. “We worked on a lot of race stuff, we had some tyres to test and get through for Pirelli then we got up to speed on the track and did some longer stints getting the bike to work on race setup. We were looking good for race pace, we did a race simulation and it felt really good.
“For sure we only got two days testing on the track and the whole race weekend is going to add some adrenaline. I'm extremely happy with the bike and the team is working really well so I can't wait to get started,” he declared.
Sunday's second day of testing was more dramatic for Sykes, who was forced to sit out most of the day after a big highside. The Englishman got back on track in the afternoon and finished the day with an overall time of 1min 32.10sec, placing the BSB race winner eighth on the timesheets.
“I was more than happy with day one, having never seen Phillip Island before, I went out and pulled a 1min 33.2sec, which wasn't too bad considering it's a new track for me,” said Sykes. “We worked on some minor adjustments and worked on getting a good base setting for the bike. I'm more than confident in its capabilities and set up, we're pretty much on the times.
“Going into day two I knew I could improve, but unfortunately on my first run, getting up to speed I had a fall. I wasn't even busting myself and not sure how it happened, got on it a bit too soon at the exit of turn 2, ran wide by two feet and where the tarmac ripples slightly the rear end low sided, I caught it then high sided the other way!
“Luckily I have no serious injuries so will be fighting fit and raring to go at the weekend. I went back out again at the end of the second day and found my pace again easily so am still confident to fight for the podium,” he concluded.
Team manager Massimo Meregalli says the team has now 'answered all our questions' and is ready for battle.
“The test went well with the exception of Tom's crash. We didn't have so many problems and it was very important that the guys learned the circuit as it's a new one for them,” he began.
“By the end of the last day, Ben was up with the fastest riders, Fabrizio and Haga. Tom had a big crash in the morning of the second day, the doctor said to stay in the clinic until the afternoon to rest. In the late afternoon he came back out for one and a half hours time on track, it was impressive as with his last lap he made his fastest lap of the test.
“In the end the test was also a big running in for us as the bike is still new, we tried to find the best set up, and tried some different tyres. We've answered all our questions and feel really good about going into the first race weekend in a few days time, we're ready to fight!”