Yamaha's 2001 YZR500 Test

Yamaha's 2001 YZR500 made a strong debut during the Malaysian Yamaha factory test, held January 28 to 31.

Both Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) and Garry McCoy (Red Bull Yamaha) set the pace during the four day test with a 2:06.8 apiece.

Meanwhile reigning 250 World Champion, Olivier Jacque came away with a broken right forearm after high-siding the Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 500 on day three - a clean break which could see the 25-year-old out of action for up to six-weeks.



Although the times were still shy of the circuits official lap record, a 2'06.053 - set by Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) during the 2000 Malaysian round, the new spec machine showed great promise for the coming season.

"A new bike is not something that you just take out of the crate and ride faster than before," explained Biaggi. "It is basically the 2000 bike with some new parts which have to be tested. So far these are better, such as suspension on the front, but it's not all about one or two fast laps. I did that here last year (setting the circuit's outright fastest lap - 2'05.458), but that doesn't mean anything. Sure it is good to see, but here we are still developing the bike to make sure we are going in the right direction when the season starts."

Biaggi made it clear his aim was to be more focused on testing rather than a time.

McCoy also approached the test with a similar attitude. "We're running a little behind with what we wanted to test because of the continual showers, but I have had a chance to sample the new engine," said McCoy. "It's not radically different but it offers better throttle response off the bottom of the rev-range. It means it's more predictable and better connected to the rear tire off slower turns. There's no lag, while the midrange seems stronger. It makes for a much nicer package."

Slotting just behind McCoy on the time-sheets was Red Bull Yamaha teammate Noriyuki Haga with a 2'07.3, in the process of coming to terms with the 500's different chassis characteristics more so than its power delivery.

"The power is not so much a problem," says Haga, "it is not too much more than the Superbike, but the chassis is much stiffer and has less feel. The Superbike seemed to squirm, which I like, and the 500 doesn't, but I am still having fun," Haga added with a smile. "We are slowly setting it up so that it feels a little more of what I like so that I am more comfortable sliding the way I want."

"We are working on many things at this stage, with Michelin, Ohlins and the Yamaha technicians," said Checa. "Little things sometimes make a big difference. We are working on the rear shock, to make it more comfortable sliding the rear tire."

Nakano also found this an area he needed to focus on; "The bike is very good, but I must now learn to adapt to the riding style. I am now used to the brakes but I must learn to slide the bike more, but the regular rain has made it hard."

After two falls - the first a low-side coming onto the back straight during the opening day, the second and most damaging, a high-side exiting Turn 10 after a miss gear on the fourth lap - Jacque still managed a 2'08.6.

"The first crash I just lost the front while I'm not so sure about thesecond," bemoaned Jacque. "I am trying to adjust to the bike and the style, to learn how to slide it more under power. What I need to do is ride it less like a 250."

Completing the 500 time sheet was Josè Luis Cardoso (Antena 3 Yamaha d'Antin) with a 2'08.9.

"I am coming to terms with the power delivery. It is a big change from the V-twin I rode last year so I am taking it one step at a time rather than rushing and making a mistake that will only set me back."

500 riders best times after four days:

Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) - 2'06.8, 137 lapsGarry McCoy (Red Bull Yamaha) - 2'06.8, 163 lapsNoriyuki Haga (Red Bull Yamaha) - 2'07.3, 153 lapsCarlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team) - 2'07.8, 141 lapsNorick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha d'Antin) - 2'07.8, 174 lapsShinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) - 2'07.9, 151 lapsOlivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) - 2'08.6, 69 lapsJosè Luis Cardoso (Antena 3 Yamaha d'Antin) - 2'08.9, 115 laps Circuit 500 GP lap record: Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) - 2'06.053 (2000)Circuit outright fastest lap: Max Biaggi (Yamaha) - 2'05.548 (2000) Also attending the Sepang Yamaha factory test was the Petronas Sprinta Yamaha TVK 250 team, which are running the former Tech 3 YZR250 machines that dominated the 250 MotoGP World Championship last year. Teammates Naoki Matsudo and Sharol Yuzy spent the test coming to terms with the factory spec bike and circulated around the 5.548km circuit in 2'11.2 and 2'11.6 respectively - 2.1 seconds shy of Nakano's 2000 lap record (2'09.1).

250 riders best times after four days:

Naoki Matsudo (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha TVK) - 2'11.2Sharol Yuzy (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha TVK) - 2'11.6 Circuit 250 GP lap record: Shinya Nakano (Yamaha) - 2'09.1 (2000)Circuit 250 GP outright fastest lap: Tohru Ukawa (Honda) - 2'08.5 (2000)
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Danielle Grossman
Danielle Grossman

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