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MCN's Michael Neeves - All set for Yamaha R1 cup at Croft launch

By Michael Neeves -

 25 March 2008 17:05

Last Thursday, saw the launch of the inaugural Henderson R1 Cup at a wet Croft circuit North Yorkshire.

This was the first time all 30-odd identical Yamaha R1s have ever been seen together and I was lucky enough to be a part of it.

The idea of the day was for all the riders to meet the series organiser (and Yamaha British Superbike boss) Rob McElena, the R1 Cup mechanics, each other and most importantly, our bike.

Seeing all the R1s crammed into two of Croft’s pit garages was something very special. It was a bit cramped but once the series kicks off they’ll be an all-singing, all-dancing tent for the R1 Cup bikes to live in.

All the bikes have the same glass fibre body panels finished white and finished off with the series sponsor’s logos in blue. Aside from a WP rear shock, Ktech fork internals, Gilles rearsets, Goodrich brake hoses, a one-tooth-smaller front sprocket, an Akrapovic exhaust and a Dynojet Power Commander the bikes are totally standard.

Everyone has to run the same control tyres: Metzeler Racetec slicks or wets depending on the conditions.

I’m going to be taking part in the whole championship, which will run at every televised British Superbike round, smack bang between the two main superbike races, which, when I think about it is both exciting and scary in equal measure.

It’s going to be a big step up from the MRO Powerbike Championship I did last year on my long-termer R1, as the likes of ex-European 250 champ Adrian Coates will be racing, as well as John Kirkham and ex-Virgin Yamaha British Superbike rider Gary Mason. Gulp.

I’ll be reporting on every race on motorcyclenews.com after every round and you’ll also be able to read about all the behind the scenes goings-on in MCN.

In the interests of fairness, we all got to choose our bikes by picking a key out of a hat, and now we keep the same motorcycle for the rest of the year.

The motorcycles started with zero miles on the clock so myself and my two mates/mechanics Rookie and Creature decided it was best to bed the bike in a bit first, although others thrashed them from the off.

For our initial sessions we stayed below 7000rpm and gradually upped the revs throughout the day until the last few laps were as flat-stick as we could in the conditions.

My bike ‘33’ felt great and bit tighter than my well used Yamaha R1 long termer, which has done over 8000-miles-worth of track and road riding.

We have to keep the same gearing wherever we go, but even so the Yamaha pulled out of all the corners with typical R1 ferociousness. The steering and handling is top-notch thanks to the suspension mods and the brakes are excellent too.

So that’s that. We’ve made a little video of what went on a Croft, which you can see on motorcyclenews.com later this week.

Now the first round of the championship is just around the corner, when the series kicks off at Brands Hatch on April 5-6.

Hope to see you there!

Neevesy #33