Hill and Suzuki top Cartagena testing

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Worx Suzuki pair Tommy Hill and Yukio Kagayama set the pace in four days of testing Cartagena, Spain.

Hill was in sensational form, clocking a 1:33.5 on the final day to go 0.9s inside the unofficial lap record of 1:34.4 that was set by Kawasaki WSB rider Chris Vermeulen in December last year.

It wasn’t a one-lap run either. Hill showed consistency with his speed all four days and his best lap came on his first flying lap followed by a 34.4, 33.72, 34.1 run – the times taken directly off his Worx Suzuki data.

Hill said: “I’m peaking. Earlier in the test I said to my bother Jimmy (testing the MAP Centurion Triumph at the same venue) that I’d be happy to go home with a mid 1:34 in the bag.

“So to be under the lap record is great. And, just like yesterday, the lap times came to me. I wasn’t really pushing for a fast one.

“There’s been a lot of talk about lap times here but if other teams want to talk bullshit about their times then they are only bullshiting themselves. To leave here confident and happy means a lot to me.

“I know I’ve done those times without biting the screen. Yukio’s in the 1:33s too (second quickest with a 1:33.7 until the final session when he matched Hill’s 1:33.5) and that’s good we’re both on the same pace.

“We’re pushing each other on and that’s got to be healthy for the team.

“We’re heading off to Guadix tomorrow. That’s a new track for me but the team has been there before so we know what’s needed.

“I’m looking forward to learning a new track and seeing what we can do there.”

Hill had a minor spill on the second day, Kagayama binned it on day two but he came out today (Sunday) with new determination and set the early pace.

James Ellison wound up third quickest but slipped off right at the end of the day. He was on a cool down lap, off the racing line when he went down.

He said it was his fault, running onto dirt track and not paying enough attention – but it looked suspiciously like an electronics glitch – possibly with the new blipper throttle system -caused the bike to lurch forward and throw him off.

Crew chief Mick Shanley later confirmed this.

But Ellison’s earlier 1:34.5 had already done enough to show the competitive state of the Swan Honda.

He said: “I could have done without the crash but otherwise I’m happy with the way the test has gone. We’re pretty well set up for this place . Now let’s go to Gaudix and see how we do there.”

Teammate Stuart Easton was fifth overall, three tenths of Ellison’s pace and equally satisfied with the test.

Big surprise was Dan Linfoot on the Motorpoint Yamaha. Everyone doubted his lap times on Saturday but by Sunday people was starting to accept the kid was on the pace.

He chucked in a 1:34.5 today and said: “Let them think what they want. The times are on my data if you want to check them (we did!). I’m just loving riding this bike and really happy to be in the mix.”

Linfoot’s more experienced team-mate Neil Hodgson continued to make methodical progress and he was lapping in the mid 1:35s on Sunday with a best time of 1:35.1.
Another surprise was Alastair Seeley’s pace on the Relentless By TAS Suzuki.

He did a 1:34.8 to go sixth fastest – especially impressive since he’d never been t the track before and the team split the tack time between their BSB riders and their roads men Cameron Donald and Bruce Anstey.

Michael Laverty was just three tenths off Seeley’s time.

HM Plant Honda were off the pace but no one in the team expected anything else given that this was their first time out with new Motec electronics and new Ohlins suspension.

Josh Brookes was marginally the quicker of the too but had to sit out most of Sunday morning while the team changed and engine.

Ryuichi Kiyonari slipped off at slow speed but otherwise the team made significant progress and were looking forward to continuing development at Guadix.

Michael Rutter dipped into the 1:35s  on Sunday with the Riders Ducati with team-mate Martin Jessopp just one tenth of second behind him.

Cartagena sample times (after fourth and final day of testing)

Yukio Kagayama, Suzuki, 1:33.5
Tommy Hill, Suzuki, 1:33.5
James Ellison, Honda, 1:34.5
Dan Linfoot, Yamaha, 1:34.5
Stuart Easton, Honda, 1:34.8
Alastair Seeley, Suzuki, 1:34.8
Michael Laverty, Suzuki 1:35.1
Neil Hodgson, Yamaha, 1:35.1
Josh Brookes, Honda, 1:35.1
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Honda, 1:35.3
Michael Rutter, Ducati, 1:35.9
Martyn Jessop, Ducati, 1: 36.0
Chris Burns, Aprilia 1:38.0
Joe Burns, Aprilia, 1:38.3

Lap record: Chris Vermeulen, Kawasaki 1:34.4 (Dec 2009)

All times are unofficial from teams!

Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin