Following meticulous preparations, the Autopage Cellular Yamaha team will be well-prepared for this Saturday’s Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2003 South African Superbike Championship in the Western Cape. The equipe’s Russell Wood and Greg Dreyer spent last Thursday and Friday lapping the Killarney circuit. In the process they arrived at a number of conclusions, with the most important that the team will switch to the all-new Yamaha YZF R6 models from this weekend. Last month, Russell Wood won the year’s two opening races at Kyalami on the older Yamaha R6 model. ”At that stage I knew that we would have to switch to the 2003 model as soon as possible, but we were not prepared to do that unless we knew that the new model would be quicker than the old one,” Wood said this week. ”Following two days of back-to-back testing, we were satisfied that both Greg and I can win races on the new Yamaha YZF R6, and we shall henceforth use those models,”he added. -

- The Autopage Cellular Yamaha equipe’s testing did not happen without incident. On Thursday afternoon, while experimenting with the new YZF R6’s fuel injection system, Wood went out on old tyres. “We knew at that stage that the new Yamaha was reaching 245 km/h down the back straight, as opposed to the 252 km/h of last year’s machine. However, we were setting better lap times, which means that the new bike is an overall better package in the areas of braking, turn-in, acceleration and rideability, off-setting a 7 km/h top speed loss. So, I ventured out and braked a bit later than usual at the end of the back straight - to crash exactly where I did during last year’s first Killarney Championship race,” Wood said. ”That caught me out was the new bike’s throttle response, which works on a quarter of a turn - in other words, if you turn it two centimetres, you have full throttle. We figured that the same problem led to my crash at Kyalami - we shall be aware of the characteristic and ride accordingly from here on” said Greg Dreyer, who will tackle Saturday’s races with a broken right foot. Luckily, Wood’s Killarney crash happened at a reasonably low speed and, apart from a painful right hand, the Autopage Cellular Yamaha team leader was unharmed. On Friday, the team switched to new tyres and things improved steadily. At the end of the day, Wood and Dreyer completed a full race distance of 15 laps each without any problems. -

- “We are fully prepared for the Killarney races, with just some handling setup fine-tuning to do. On the other hand, none of the other teams have been sitting on their hands since last month’s opening races, and we shall be up against tough competition,” Wood said. -

- “This could be one of the most competitive seasons for a number of years - which, in local Superbike racing - is a huge statement,” Wood added. -

- At Killarney this Saturday, the Superbike brigade will tackle an eight-lap Sprint race in the morning, followed by a 15-lap Feature race in the afternoon. Riders have to complete both races and their morning’s Official Qualifying session on the same set of tyres. -

- “It is not easy, but if it were easy, Girl Guides would be doing it - we are looking forward to the weekend,” Wood said. As before, he and Dreyer will be joined by the Autopage Cellular Yamaha Team’s Charles Grassie in the Western Cape.

Original article from Car