2009 Yamaha Motor Italia Superbike riders Ben Spies and Tom Sykes endured some serious heat on their three day test in Kyalami. The young riders endured track temperatures approaching 50 degrees as they put the all-new-for-2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 through its paces on only its second outing on track.
The final day saw Spies pull in his fastest time of the test, taking second fastest honours overall and only a mere 0.2s behind Michel Fabrizio and beating Noriyuki Haga to the second spot, making him one of only three riders to break the 1.40 barrier with a time of 1.39″978. Tom Sykes was getting back on form until an unfortunate crash curtailed his testing for the day, he again improved on his times in the limited laps run with a 1.41″562.
Ben Spies: “I’m really happy with the bike, the team and the progress we’re making,” Spies continued. “This was the first time we had the opportunity to go out and size ourselves up against everyone in a major test. We’re ahead of where we thought we’d be at this point. There are two more test sessions this winter and I expect the bike will continue to improve as we move towards the season opener at Phillip Island in March. The fan support here is pretty amazing. It was a good week to get to know some of the other riders too. I had a lot of them come up and shake my hand and welcome me to the series. Max Biaggi came up and talked with me for awhile. That was pretty awesome for me. I’ve been a fan of Max since I was a kid. In AMA there might be two or three guys in testing who get down to business from start to finish,” Spies admitted. “There’s no lollygagging here. No one’s going around doing wheelies the length of the straightaway. Everyone pushes hard here all the time. The competition is going to be good for sure.”
Tom Sykes: “It’s been a tough test! I missed one and half days through this bug I’ve had so was a long way behind with laps. When I got out I still managed to get some good laps in and the team were brilliant, they improved the bike massively every time I came in. I’ve got a very sore shoulder from falling today but it’s nothing serious.”