Yamaha’s supposedly " best " bike, in the hands of its " best " riders, was left trailing in the wake of Gary McCoy’s two-stroke at Valencia’s opening ITRA test.
In fact, McCoy’s YZR (a full 14kg lighter than Yamaha’s four-stroke M1) was running faster than ever, taking him to a best time (of 1.34.07) a full two seconds faster than Alex Criville’s 2000 lap record. He was 0.4s quicker than the pole time Max Biaggi set in September.
He was 0.6s faster than third fastest Carlos Checa on the M1 and 0.8s faster than Biaggi, who was also on an M1.
Valentino Rossi smashed his Sepang lap record by three seconds earlier this month when he rode Honda’s four-stroke.
Even 2001 500 rookie Shinya Nakano was faster than new M1 as he comfortably slotted into second place after a three-day test disrupted by wet and cold conditions.
Spaniard Checa admitted afterwards that lap times were not his primary concern as both he and Biaggi got their first chance to test Yamaha's new electronically controlled hydraulic engine braking system, which works in addition to the engine's slipper clutch. Even though he was beaten by two YZRs, he still managed to knock 0.8s off his qualifying time for last year's GP.
Biaggi crashed, unhurt, in strong winds, and when he took his spare bike out, that packed up. He also tumbled off again on the final day and only managed to set his best time of 1.34.82 when he switched to the M1 being used by test rider John Kocinski.
Riding a mainly 2001 spec Yamaha YZR 500 fitted with revised cylinders for
sharper bottom power McCoy out ran all his Michelin-shod factory rivals.
And he said: " My Yamaha is basically the same as last year but finally I've got a decent choice of softer compound tyres from Dunlop which is what I've been looking for. The Dunlops suit my style and are giving me good feedback so I've got a lot of confidence to go out and do the business."
More on this in MCN, on sale on Wednesday, February 20, 2002.