James Toseland reckons a new set-up with his Tech 3 Yamaha machine has given him a massive boost as he finished the first day of practice with the eighth best time in Catalunya.
Toseland used the set-up on his way to a third top six finish of his rookie season in Mugello just six days ago, and it has helped him get closer to the leading group on day one in Spain today.
Toseland’s best time of 1.43.479 was just 0.462s slower than pace setter Dani Pedrosa on the factory Honda.
That is a clear leap forward from the double World Superbike champion, who has been over a second off the pace on the first day at tracks like Le Mans and Shanghai where he’s never raced before.
The 27-year-old said: “The rear is much more planted and the new set-up puts more weight on the rear tyre. With the rear more planted on the entry you can brake a bit later because there is more contact.
"I can enter the corner faster and still turn because there is more grip and then get on a better apex to exit better. It is amazing if you don’t have that rear traction how much time you can lose in those points. Now I’m in the ballpark on the first day I’ll check with my guys and Michelin where we can improve.
"We’ve still got some small issues and those last few tenths are always the hardest to find. I’m really pleased with today though and love the track. Like Mugello, it is so fast, flowing and technical and I love riding through those fast corners.”
He said the new-set-up also enabled him to concentrate on learning new tracks faster, rather than also having to search for a comfortable set-up.
“To be only four-tenths off on my first day is really pleasing and that shows how well the team has been working and how good this new setting is we found at the Michelin test after Le Mans.
"At the other new tracks I was over a second slower at this point on a Friday so we have made big progress. We have just about found a really good base setting on the bike and that is helping me learn the tracks even quicker.
"I can concentrate of fine-tuning the set-up rather than turning the bike upside down, while also trying to find my way round the circuit. We have got to a point were we can just tweak the bike rather than look to make big changes.
"The set-up is a real improvement and it has helped a lot with rear grip. Today I was able to do consistent times on old tyres but that’s because I’ve got the confidence to push, “said the Sheffield rider.