Motorpoint Yamaha rider Neil Hodgson got his first chance to ride the ex-Airwaves factory R1 at Cartagena last week. He explained to MCN what the experience was like.
“I couldn’t believe it when I was told we were getting the old Airwaves Yamahas. I didn’t want to believe it because I hate that feeling when you get let down. But this is so pleasant.
"I only knew 100% we’d get the bikes once I met up with the lads at the airport and they couldn’t stop talking about the bikes.
“I’d have been happy just to get a factory swing-arm but here we are with the bikes. I knew at Almeria we were in the right direction.
"We knew what we needed and I think we’d have been okay with the original bikes that the team had developed themselves - if we had got the bits we needed.
“But now we’ve just got a lot better spec bikes than we’d expected to have. I’m confident in the bike and it’s nice to have that feeling.
“I’m learning every time I go out and I’m enjoying the experience. It’s a superb atmosphere in this team, which makes things even more enjoyable. I’m doing my usual Neil Hodgson thing of taking things step by step.
“To ride this bike you’ve got to treat it just like a big 125. You want to stand it up and use your right hand to fire it out of corners but that wouldn’t be using its strengths.
“Dan’s clicked on it straight away and it’s good to have that reference point.
This ex-Airwaves (factory) bike definitely feels very different to the bike I rode before.
"It’s lighter and physically smaller. Power-wise it’s similar but that’s no surprise.
"This is the same engine we used in the original bike – and the same Motec electronics (Airwaves used a Marelli system).
“The suspension is plusher (factory Ohlins forks and shock) and I’ve barely touched the settings during the test, apart from going to softer fork springs.
"Leon Camier’s a bit heavier than me but we didn’t even change them until I’d done lots of laps. I wanted to get a good feel for the bike before we changed anything.
“It’s weird for me (not changing anything). Normally I’d have re-invented the thing by now.
“The big difference with this bike is that you can turn the throttle when the bike is at maximum lean.
"The rpm is so low so when you do it, you expect to get launched but instead, it just drives. Because the thing is geared so tall, the power hits much later, once you are out of the corner, so there’s less risk of you being ejected.
“It’s all about re-education. I remember Ben Bostrom and Josh Hayes telling me that it was a very different motorcycle.
"It took them a while to get into it, but once they got going, Josh Hayes was virtually unbeatable in AMA Superbike.
“I’m improving every time I ride it. It’s real difficult to have the patience when all you want to do is go fast, but having Rob here is really good to keep me reigned in.
"Look at Dan’s data and comparing it to mine, you’d think I was on the hot laps but that’s not how it is with this bike.”