Assen MotoGP: James Toseland fast on radical new Yamaha set-up

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James Toseland was delighted with his opening day performance in Assen today after the British rider rode a radically revised Monster Yamaha YZR-M1 to the ninth quickest time in practice.

Toseland’s M1 appeared with new footpeg, seat and handlebar position today and his bike also ran a softer rear shock setting to help him with rear confidence from Bridgestone’s slick tyre.

And the 28-year-old reaped instant rewards from the new set-up, inspired after lengthy technical discussions with Fiat Yamaha Team Director Masahiko Nakajima after the last race in Catalunya.

Nakajima spent the entire hour-long session camped on Toseland’s side of the Tech 3 garage and he watched the double World Superbike champion make a brilliant start.

Toseland occupied a place in the top three for the opening 20 minutes and only Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa were faster in the opening exchanges.

Toseland comfortably sat in the top six for the majority of the session before slipping down to 11th in a frantic final five minutes.

But a best lap of 1.38.379 moved him back up to ninth on the timesheets, but he was only 0.537s slower than fastest rider Randy de Puniet on the LCR Honda.

Toseland said: “All my knowledge of this place means I’m not thinking about where I need to be and I can just concentrate on the bike.

"I’m not too worried about being in ninth because the times are so close and I’m only half-a-second off first.

"I’m just pleased that I’m close to the front on the first day rather than being 1.1 or 1.2s off. My bike was a lot different today and we’ve moved more weight to the back.

"My bike was set-up for a lot of grip, but as soon as the race tyre started to wear, I struggled and it’s amazing how sensitive these bikes are to weight.

"We’ve gone a lot softer on the rear spring to get more load on the rear and I’ve got the grip and the drive now.

"I’d like to thank Mr Nakajima from Yamaha. I had a meeting with him on Sunday night in Barcelona and he has been in my garage all through that session giving me some help and I really appreciate his effort.

"This new setting feels quite a bit different because we’ve changed footpeg and handlebar position too, and while it doesn’t feel as comfortable as my old setting, I’m definitely going round the track quicker and that’s the main thing.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt