The Virgin Mobile Samsung Yamaha British Superbike team makes its way to Silverstone this weekend for the opening round of the 2004 British Superbike Championship, and all hopes rest on their radically new R1.

Having completed their pre-season test programme, the trio of riders, Steve Plater, Gary Mason and Tommy Hill, are eager to debut the all-new Yamaha R1 race bike in the UK and score strong results over the coming season.

Plater, who returns to the team after a year-out at Honda, is impatient to put the Yamaha through its paces at the weekend. The 33-year old rider has enjoyed four wins over the past two seasons, along with a string of podium finishes, and hopes to post strong results from the off.

The Woodhall Spa resident comments, "So far, everything has gone well with testing. We were at Silverstone last week and the team was pleased with the results.

"This year will be a tough as there are about ten podium finishers on the grid, all of who have the potential to be champion, so everyone will be battling from the beginning. I'm at the top of my game at the moment and I can't afford to throw away any chances. Consistency will be the key, and I just want to get as many points under my belt as quickly as I can."

Team-mate Gary Mason, who begins his second season with the Virgin Mobile Samsung team, will be focusing on netting his first podium finish after narrowly missing out on four occasions last year.

"Last year I came so close to finishing on the podium, it was so frustrating, and I also had some great battles with Steve (Plater) along the way," said Mason. "This year I know I will be up there. We have a fantastic bike that is more than capable of delivering the goods. We all know it is going to be a tough season and we have absolutely no time to waste when it comes to racking up the points."

While his more seasoned team-mates concentrate on winning points, the 2003 Virgin Mobile R6 Cup Champion and superbike 'rookie' Tommy Hill will be concentrating on getting superbike laps under his belt. The 19-year-old from Lingfield in Surrey graduates to the ultra-competitive series as a prize for winning the Virgin Mobile R6 Cup last year and knows that he has a steep learning curve ahead.

"I've been given my best chance ever to race alongside the world's top superbike riders," figures Tommy Hill. "I have a lot to learn, not only getting to grips with the R1 at race pace but also adapting my riding style to suit the championship. It's all about smoothness and consistency and that's' what I am hoping to achieve. Testing has been really excellent and the team have been brilliant and, just like Steve and Gary, I can't wait to go racing."

 

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