After a tough opening round at Phillip Island, Yamaha Sterilgarda riders James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow are hoping that technical progress with the R1 will put them in the fight for podium places during this weekend's Portimao round.
After solving unexpected chatter problems in Australia, the team found further difficulties in the electronics area. Toseland and Crutchlow then crashed out of race one, before reaching the flag in ninth (Crutchlow) and tenth (Toseland) in race two.
Having used the time since to search for solutions to their Phillip Island difficulties, which included a brief test at Misano, riders and team are hoping for a fresh start at Portimao, a circuit where the team won the 2009 title with Ben Spies and Crutchlow lifted the Supersport crown.
"I'm really keen to get to Portugal and get back on the bike," said Crutchlow. "Last time I raced here I won the world title in Supersport so I have good feelings for the track. I'm going to put 100% into my efforts this weekend as always and we'll see what happens with the progress the guys have made over the last couple of weeks."
Toseland, returning to WSBK after two seasons in MotoGP, also suffered a hand injury in Australia but should be close to full strength this weekend.
"I'm really looking forward to it," he said. "We had a tough time in Australia but I believe the team has been working really hard in the meantime and the test went well in Misano. My hand is nearly back to normal although there's still a bit of pain. I'm basically looking forward to getting out on track and seeing what progress we've made to catch up."
"From a chassis point of view, we are very close to where we need to be,” revealed Toseland's crew chief Frankie Carchedi. “The biggest area the team have been working on is the electronics and smoothening the power delivery to make it more user friendly for James. This will also help the tyre life for the latter part of the race. The team have worked hard since Philip Island to find solutions for the areas that needed improving. Hopefully we can be challenging for the podium positions."
Team manager Massimo Meregalli naturally hopes for a less problematic weekend - and that the 'hard work' since Phillip Island will pay off.
“During the Portimao circuit test in January we did not have the problems that haunted us in Phillip Island,” said Meregalli. “The team has worked incredibly hard this month and we have achieved positive results in our Misano test. We go to Portimao confident that we can achieve good results with both riders. I'm happy that James's hand is much better so he can concentrate on riding without pain.”