HM Plant Honda and Swan Yamaha at Calafat

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These are the first pictures of the HM Plant Honda and Swan Yamaha teams in 2011 BSB pre-season testing, shot exclusively by Double Red for MCN today at Calafat, Spain.

Defending BSB champion Ryuichi Kiyonari and new-signing Shane Byrne were out on the brand new HM Plant Hondas (along with new superstock signing Jason O’Halloran), while Swan Yamaha pair Tommy Hill and Michael Laverty were having their first day in the saddle of the 2010 factory WSB Yamaha R1s.

For all the riders it was a day of adjusting to racing speeds again, dialling in new bikes and getting accustomed to the tight Calafat circuit.

Byrne has years Ducati experience but now has to adapt to a four-cylinder and he said: “The bike feels flippin’ fast! I’ve been careful not to try and make it work like a v-twin but these boys now how to get the best from the Honda and every time we’ve made changes, the bike improves. We started out this morning, working on the bike set-up and this afternoon we’re getting it to feel more like my bike.

“The v-twins make their power in a different way, with a lot of grunt so you get the throttle on early in the corner. The Honda is much more linear in the way it makes power but the more you rev it, the stronger it feels to the point where the front comes up and the cross winds threaten to blow you off the bike.”

For Hill it was the first chance to sample the cross-plane crank R1 and he said: “It’s certainly different! Today is about getting the learn the track, getting comfortable with the bike and getting used to having a blipper throttle system.”

Testing continues for two more days at Calafat then the teams move to Cartagena to join the four-day Pro Test run by former Rothmans Honda and JPS Norton team manager Barry Symmonds. The Cartagena test features a host of BSB and roads teams.

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin