Alex Lowes has taken a confidence boost into the 2017 World Superbike season opener having made strong development steps forward on the Pata Yamaha YZF-R1 which resulted in consistent race pace at the Portimao test.
Throughout the new Yamaha R1's debut in World Superbikes last year, the team's one lap speed was obvious with impressive qualifying performances but it would then struggle to translate it over a race distance in 2016 – particularly on worn Pirelli rubber.
With a clear testing plan the Pata Yamaha crew focused on race pace while aiming to bring continual development steps to the rest of the bike.
Despite a fall on day one at Portimao, Lowes leaves the back-to-back two-day tests at Jerez and Portimao satisfied with the progress made with focus on race pace by ending the European tests with a 20-lap run consistently within the 1m 43s bracket.
"We had two really good winter tests this week,” Lowes said. “Saturday was difficult as we had a little problem but I'm really pleased with the way the team has worked and how I have worked overall. We completed another full race simulation and it felt good, so we've put the work in as much as we can for the time we've had.
“I feel like I'm riding well and I'm looking forward to going to Australia. I've enjoyed the tests, you always want to do better but I've achieved what I set out to achieve.
“I can still improve myself on a few areas and get a little more comfortable but the YZF-R1 is feeling really like "my bike" now and I'm ready to go at Phillip Island.”
Paul Denning's factory Pata Yamaha team were joined by Yamaha Motor Europe engineers for the two tests and feels collectively there has been a huge shift forward in the development over the winter.
“Between Michael and Alex we have completed over 2500km of full-pace running at Jerez and here at Portimao, which we hope will pay dividends when we reach the first race events,” Denning said. "I have to thank Yamaha Motor Europe's engineers and the team for their collective efforts since the end of the November tests.
“The 2017 WorldSBK YZF-R1 is a significant step forward compared to the 2016 bike, and there is more performance to come. A huge amount of effort and dedication has been invested, and everybody involved in the project feels a positive sense of momentum as we approach the first race.”
Pata Yamaha is gearing up for its 2017 team livery launch on the 7th February in Milan before heading to the 2017 season opener at Phillip Island.