Yamaha World Superbike Team press release:
The World Superbike Championship is gearing up for round five this weekend at the legendary circuit of Monza in Italy. Fresh from an adrenalin packed race weekend in Assen, the Yamaha World Superbike Team are ready for what is their home race. The Monza circuit, built in 1922 is now the oldest European circuit to still be used regularly and is steeped in tradition. There are sure to be a huge number of Yamaha supporters out in force at the weekend as the Team’s workshop is very close to the north corners of the track at Gerno di Lesmo.
Whilst Monza is another new circuit for the Yamaha pair in race terms, they have had the opportunity to test here recently so will start the weekend with a much needed base set-up already in place and some understanding of the track layout. Ben Spies comes to Monza still second in the championship on 120 points, chasing leader Noriyuki Haga with a 60 point deficit and looking to close the gap. Team-mate Tom Sykes arrives at the Italian circuit in confident mood having consistently improved over the season and taken good points away from both races at Assen. As the British rider gets more familiar with the new 2009 R1, podium finishes are looking inevitable. He currently sits sixth in the standings on 70 points, leading Max Biaggi by 15 points.
Spies is philosophical following a mix weekend’s action at Assen, “Assen was a really mixed bag,” he stated. “During the first race I didn’t have the same feeling I’d had all weekend on the bike and had to ride really hard through it. The second race felt really good but I made a small mistake, I barely touched the grass going in to turn one and lost it. Now we’re moving on to Monza and I’m going to ride as hard as I can as always. There will be a lot of family and friends there so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and still try to have some fun. We’ve made a couple of mistakes this year in the championship but it’s still there for the taking, just a bit further off. Hopefully both Tom and I will have a good weekend and we can fight with Nori for some points. The circuit is awesome, having tested here I can see why it’s so special so I’m really excited about turning the wheels on race day and really experiencing it.”
Team-mate Tom Sykes was happy to have finally tried the classic Assen circuit. “I very much enjoyed Assen, I had wanted to race there for a long time so it was great to finally do it. I was fairly happy with the race weekend apart from the second race where I had a bad start and left myself a lot to do. Still, I’m looking forward to Monza, overall I’m feeling confident. We’ve learnt a lot recently so moving forward I think we can do well. When we tested at Monza recently I was able to run very consistent times so I think we’re on the pace for it. We’ve got a couple of changes in mind for the bike and we’ll be on for good result. It’s going to be a really exciting race as there are half a dozen riders able to do similar lap times there so it’ll be good for great battle!”
Technically speaking – Monza according to Tom Houseworth (Crew chief for Ben Spies)
“Monza is one of the tracks where we have a couple days of testing under our belt so it’s a more familiar circuit to some of the others so far. The time we had there was very important as now we have what we think is a good base set up to start the weekend on our Yamaha R1. Gearing, which is critical on the circuit, should be very close and geometry and overall setup should be in the ballpark according to our data and the lap times Ben ran at the test.
The track is quite a bit different than the last round at Assen, with long straights and chicanes connecting them although surprisingly the settings are not that far from the Assen settings with just some tweaks here and there. To race well here stability on the brakes is very important as well as having the bike transition well. It should make for interesting racing as the ability to draft on the straights may allow quite a few guys to swap the lead in the race.
In terms of setting up in practice we’re going to try doing things just a bit differently this time, both bikes will start with the same basic setup and we’ll try both and see if there is any difference. If we are close on the settings we’ll chose the bike Ben is most comfortable on and fine tune from there. We are hopeful everything is close and the feeling is there so we can start looking at race rubber early and be able to adjust for track temp and conditions. Once this looks good we’ll do any fine tuning with the traction control and be ready for Sunday. Of course we want to be near the front; we’ll see how it goes! It should be a fun weekend as it’s the home race for the team and almost everyone will have friends and family there as well.”