The paddock sets down at Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao, Portugal this week for the first of the European rounds of the 2010 World Superbike Championship season. This will be the third outing for Superbikes at the Portuguese circuit, and the first race there for the Sterilgarda Yamaha team since they secured the 2009 WSBK title at the end of last season with rider Ben Spies. The track also has a special significance for Cal Crutchlow, as it was here at the end of the season last year that he crossed the line to take the World Supersport Championship title for Yamaha. The team also enjoyed a very positive test here in January, wrapping up with Cal Crutchlow fourth fastest and James Toseland sixth, both delivering fast, consistent and competitive lap times.
After solving unexpected chatter problems in the race weekend during the first round, the team then also found difficulties in the electronics area in combination with the increased power found during the winter and low grip levels at the Phillip Island circuit. The team have continued to work hard to further develop the 2010 R1 including a short test at the Misano circuit in San Marino last week. Riders James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow are now keen to get straight onto the track and close the points deficit to current championship leader Leon Haslam.
Round one at Phillip Island saw both riders fall in the first race, regrouping for race two with Crutchlow scoring a ninth place finish and Toseland right behind in tenth. The month break following has given Toseland’s hand injury, sustained in Phillip Island, a chance to recover ahead of Friday’s first sessions on track.
“I’m really keen to get to Portugal and get back on the bike. 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.”
“I’m really looking forward to it. 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.”
Frankie Carchedi, James Toseland’s Crew Chief:
“Portimao is a very challenging circuit to set-up for. It requires good handling in the middle section, but also a very good stable and braking bike in the first sector. From a chassis point of view, we are very close to where we need to be. 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 tire 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.”
Marcus Eschenbacher, Cal Crutchlow’s Crew Chief:
“Portimao is a track with three distinct characters, the long straight with hard braking, the mid-part with enormous altitude changes and the last part, especially the last corner with a long sweeping radius. So the key point for us with Cal is to find the right balance of setup to suit major areas of the circuit. We will start with one bike on the setup from the test that worked well and one with some new ideas to match it better with Cal’s needs. The main concentration is on the electronic side to improve ride ability and also endurance of the tires. As with all races it depends on the weekend conditions how much we will be able to do. We will work hard to challenge the podium!”
Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team Manager:
“It hasn’t been a perfect start to the season for us, but as always with new bike developments it can take some testing to get the best results. During the Portimao circuit test in January we did not have the problems that haunted us in Phillip Island. 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.”
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