McConnell ready after Raceways Spanish test

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Map Raceways Yamaha’s three-man team has returned from a successful four-day test at Cartagena, with their supersport star Billy McConnell saying he is ready to give the competition a run for their money.

He said: “It was a good shake down with the team and it was also good for bonding with my new crew.

"The team already had a good set-up from last year so we just had some changes to the electronics and the motor. We got down to some creditable lap times and it was a very positive test.

“I concentrated on getting a set-up and working with my tyres plus I had to remember how to race a 600cc after being on a superbike for a season. It’s great to be starting the season injury-free and with some testing under my belt.

"I’d like to give the championship a run for its money but there is a lot of competition. I know I’ll be trying hard for sure.”

The Map Raceways squad is one of the most diverse in the paddock with McConnell from Australia, Allan-Jon Venter from South Africa and Ulsterman Lee Johnston all on supersport bikes.

Despite the eclectic mix, everyone bonded well and worked towards the common goal of improving their setups and putting in consistent fast laps.

AJ Venter added: “The bike is awesome. Billy was on quick times and I was getting close. It was a good shake-down plus our sponsors came along and enjoyed it too.

"At the end of each day I’d go out with Billy and he showed me some lines which was good as he helped me a lot and I went one second faster than the team did at last year’s test.”

Reigning National Superstock 600 Champion Lee Johnston: “It was a really positive test since I thought I’d be a bit rusty not having been on a bike since last year. So for the first day I just went out on old tyres and got back up to speed.

“Everyone on the team gets on well both Billy and AJ are good lads so everyone is happy and as you know when you are happy you are fast. You couldn’t get a nicer team boss than Steve so it was good.”

The team’s National Superstock 600 riders Nikki Coates, Luke Jones, Mike McLean and Cody Nally also had productive tests in Spain and are fully geared up for the season ahead.

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin