James Toseland has praised the 'massive improvements' made by Yamaha Sterilgarda in the World Superbike Championship thus far in 2010 from serious issues in Australia to pole position and the podium a month later in Portugal – and heading towards round three in Spain this weekend, the former double WSBK Champion is hopeful of converting that progress into on-track results.
Pre-season chatter problems returned to haunt Yamaha in the Phillip Island curtain-raiser in late February, and whilst both Toseland and team-mate Cal Crutchlow succeeded in qualifying their R1s up at the sharp end of the grid, they would fall away on race day Down Under.
Updates ahead of round two at Portimão in the Algarve enabled Crutchlow to seize a dominant, lap record pole position in Superpole and a rostrum finish in race two – having thrown a likely similar result down the road in the closing stages of race one as he pushed too hard to try to catch the two leaders – and whilst a mistake consigned Toseland to a lowly 15th on the grid, a pair of combative performances the following day earned the MotoGP refugee a brace of strong top seven finishes.
With both riders reporting steps forward in terms of power, bike set-up and development, the entire team now heads to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia confident of maintaining that upward momentum and of kicking its challenge for title glory this year firmly into gear.
“We've made massive improvements from Australia to Portugal, which obviously the podium from Cal proved,” affirmed Toseland, who is continuing to get back to full fitness as he recovers from a hand injury sustained in a free practice high-side at Phillip Island. “The second race at Portimão was particularly good for me; I had really good race pace, but couldn't get to front which was disappointing as I started from too far back.
“The Valencia test went well in the winter and I've done a lot on the Spanish track compared to Portugal, so I'm looking forward to getting out there and getting stuck in, being able to concentrate on the bike set-up without having the added focus of learning the circuit.”
“We have continued to work extremely hard since Portimão to continue improving the electronics on the bike,” echoed the Yorkshireman's crew chief Frankie Carchedi. “Valencia is a very challenging circuit. A good front fork setting is important as is a good-handling bike, as a lot of corners link together.
“We will start on a very similar setting to race two at Portimão, with the biggest change coming from a new electronic strategy for corner exit. James will be one step closer to full fitness, and hopefully with another step of improvement from the bike, we can be challenging at the front!”
Crutchlow, for his part, is eager to get back out on-track at the Spanish circuit, scene of his first victory en route
to the World Supersport Championship laurels last year. The former British Superbike Championship front-runner is keen to atone for his costly Portuguese error and climb up the points table from the tenth spot that he occupies at present, just ahead of his team-mate.