When the R1 was first launched it became an instant icon. A tri-axis engine with a GP style chassis was cutting edge technology back in 1998.
The bike has evolved through the years with fuel injection, a crossplane crank, and electronic systems amongst the hundreds of development upgrades.
The original R1 design focus was primarily for the street, however that has all changed for 2015, with Yamaha’s Engineer’s instructed to design a bike mainly for the track.
A team of 50 design engineers worked closely with Yamaha’s MotoGP team and test riders from divisions in Japan, Europe, and the US, including Valentino Rossi and US rider Josh Hayes, to come up with perhaps the most technologically advanced electronics package on a motorcycle ever made available to the riding public.
Many of the senior engineers were in attendance at Sydney Motorsport Park – Eastern Creek in Australia for the R1 world launch, providing excellent technical support for the test riders and a unique insight into the challenges they each faced creating the new R1.
The diverse range of 18 corners, including one of the fastest turns in Australia, approached at nearly 300kmh, was perfect to test all the attributes of a new motorcycle.
Our test group had some quick guys including Josh Brookes, Steve Martin, and Cam Donald, so there was no hanging about.
Troy Corser was forced to sit out the second day of testing for BMW Motorrad at Phillip Island after a crash Wednesday left him heavily bruised. The team was testing at Phillip Island after skipping the official World Superbike test at Portimao in favor of warmer climes, first at Eastern Creek and now at Phillip Island in Australia. Though the team said the test was satisfactory, any crash major enough to force a rider to sit out a day of testing can be worrisome. He is apparently fine, but had “painful bruises” that kept him from riding effectively.
That crash left Leon Haslam to do the bulk of testing for his new team. “We were still focusing on electronics and worked on a setup for this race track,” Haslam explained. “This was important as in three weeks time we are going to have our first races of the season here. We have already found a good base to work on. I am happy; we made some good progress. My lap times were quite good for these hot conditions. Of course we still have some work to do before the season starts but I am happy with the progress we made so far. The bike improved a lot in the last month.”
For kids too old for Santa, the beginning of racing season often brings about more excitement than a jolly man delivering presents. Winter testing often fills the gap for race fans. A long season of private and series-sponsored tests for World Superbikes get underway beginning next week, stretching until just days before the season opener at Phillip Island on February 27th.
The Kawasaki factory team and and satellite Team Pedercini get the season started off with their test, this coming Monday, January 10th through 14th, at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia, while Liberty Racing Ducati will be riding around at Guadix, Spain on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ten Kate will be at Motorland Aragon, which was highly praised at its MotoGP inaugural round last season, two weeks from now on January 20th and 21st.
According to Visordown, the 2009 Kawasaki ZX-RR was showing a serious lack of reliability during tests at Eastern Creek last week. The reliability is such an issue that Kawasaki is waiting until the end of the month, when it tests again at Phillip Island, before making a decision. If there’s any doubt then the bikes won’t find their way onto the grid, whether in factory or privateer trim.
Reports are showing that Kawasaki is about to resume its testing, with Olivier Jacque taking laps at Phillip Island on the 2009 ZX-RR. The French rider is at the Eastern Creek circuit near Sydney for a test on the ZX-RR, which was being developed for John Hopkins and Marco Melandri for the 2009 season. Jacque will be testing an all new in-line four-cylinder motor and revised chassis at the Eastern Creek test, starting this Saturday.
After Eastern Creek, the test team will then move down to the Phillip Island for further testing and development. This news and commitment from Kawasaki adds further credence to the reports that we will see them, in some form or another, on the grid during the 2009 season. Kawasaki MotoGP manager, Michael Bartholemy, has been strongly linked with the rescue package, though he has yet to make any official comment on the future plans of Kawasaki and its withdrawal late last year.