Ten years ago this week – December 20, 2005

Troy Bayliss tops Qatar World Superbike Tests

Ten years ago this week World Superbike pilots strutted their stuff in their final official Superbike test for 2005. Virtually all the major players were in attendance at Qatar for the three day test session and it was Ducati man Troy Bayliss who emerged as the pacesetter. Read our notes and quotes below that we first published ten years ago this week.

Troy Bayliss - December, 2005 - WorldSBK Testing Qatar
Troy Bayliss – December, 2005 – WorldSBK Testing Qatar

“I’m very happy with the way things went here, we made progress every day” declared Troy. “I did a lot of laps and my wrist stood up well. I did a great time on qualifying tyres today but the best thing is the improvement made by the Pirelli race tyres since the start of the year. I did a full race simulation with lots of laps in the 59s so things are looking good. I love working with the guys in the team. Everything went really smoothly and now I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike again after the Christmas break.”

Reigning World Champion Troy Corser (Suzuki) is definitely not going to be a pushover however as he ended the test second quickest despite missing the final day through a stomach virus.

“It was disappointing not to ride the last day because I felt sure I could break the 1:59 barrier. But the tests went very well and we learnt a lot of positive things. We had some new Pirellis to try and they made a big difference to me. They are a significant improvement and they allowed me to lay the bike down in the turns instead of just putting it in there. Now I can feel what the bike is going to do and really use the tyre more. Also the bike felt more stable and I knew it was better all round because I was working harder! During the two days I tried some new front forks, rear suspension and small bits and bobs – nothing dramatic – just little steps forward.”

Australian riders have scored thousands more championship points throughout the history of the series than any other country’s riders and with these two men in the thick of the action for 2006 that trend is set to continue with other top pilots such as Karl Muggeridge, Andrew Pitt and Steve Martin also sure to add to the Australian tally.

Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) ended the test third quickest just ahead of Ten Kate Honda pair James Toseland and Karl Muggeridge who is still battling back to full strength after sustaining a late season injury.

“Three days is a long test and I’m pretty tired. I spent seven days back in Australia before coming here and had five days of treatment on my back so I’m shaping up pretty good physically again now. We came across this chatter problem today for some reason and one or two other niggles made things a little frustrating, but we definitely made some progress over the first two days. We were going well today, too, but the sun just drops out of the sky at around 5.00pm so we just ran out of time really. We’ve learned a heap about the bike which we’ll be able to transfer to the 2006 machine so I think it would be a really good idea to come back here early next year to do some back-to-back comparisons.”

Toseland, the 2004 World Superbike Champion, has commenced his association with the leading Honda squad after a number of years as a factory Ducati pilot but the young Briton looks to be adapting quickly to the four-cylinder Fireblade. Both Ten Kate men rode 2005 specification bikes and are eagerly awaiting the improvements the 2006 Fireblade will bring to their campaigns. The Dutch based Ten Kate squad also fielded their 600cc World Supersport Champion Sebastien Charpentier who again proved the quickest in that exciting class. A big feature for Australian fans of the Supersport Championship is the inclusion of current Australian Superbike and Supersport Champion Josh Brookes who will contest the 2006 World Supersport Championship onboard a Ducati 749R fielded by the Italian NCR squad.

Noriyuki Haga was the fastest Yamaha Superbike pilot at the test just ahead of Andrew Pitt (NSW).  “It’s been a satisfying test and I was pleased to find that on the few times I was lapping with Bayliss my R1 was a little faster than his Ducati. Certainly the engine upgrades are working good, as is the new suspension. We also fitted a new shock at the end of the test and this will be one of the key development areas at our next test.” Commented Pitt after the test.

South Australia’s Steve Martin was back onboard the Foggy Petronas triple-cylinder machine after recently having a kidney removed but put down promising times.  “I’m really happy with the test, including the lap time I got down to. I’m exceptionally happy that we got through all the things we had to test, as this has given the team a really good direction to improve from yet again, in time for our test at Philip Island in January when I will be 100% recovered and fit.”

The next major test for most of the 2006 contenders is scheduled to take place at Phillip Island between January 17 and 20 while the season kicks of at Qatar on February 25. Many teams are testing privately before then however. Team Yamaha riders Broc Parkes and Kevin Curtain are testing today in Valencia.

Recent World Superbike paddock gossip has also seen talk of rumours that MotoGP rider Alex Barros has been testing a Fireblade Superbike and may even join the World Superbike Championship in 2006.

Overall Qatar World Superbike December 2000 Testing Times on Race Tyres
  1. Bayliss Ducati 999 Ducati Xerox 1’59.13
  2. Corser Suzuki GSXR Alstare Suzuki 1’59.17
  3. Lanzi Ducati 999 Ducati Xerox 1’59.40
  4. Toseland Honda CBR 1000 RR Winston Ten Kate 2’0.01
  5. Haga Yamaha YZF R1 Yamaha Motor Italia 2’0.046
  6. Kagayama Suzuki GSXR Alstare Suzuki 2’0.062
  7. Muggeridge Honda CBR 1000 RR Winston Ten Kate 2’0.081
  8. Pitt Yamaha YZF R1 Yamaha Motor Italia 2’01.00
  9. Martin Petronas Foggy Petronas 2’01.80
  10. Jones Petronas Foggy Petronas 2’02.50
Overall Qatar World Superbike December 2000 Testing Times on Qualifying Tyres
  1. Bayliss Ducati 999 Ducati Xerox 1’58.66
  2. Lanzi Ducati 999 Ducati Xerox 1’59.4
  3. Muggeridge Honda CBR 1000 RR Winston Ten Kate 2’00.09
  4. Kagayama Suzuki GSXR Alstare Suzuki 2’00.38
  5. Pitt Yamaha YZF R1 Yamaha Motor Italia 2’00.46

Footnote

NB: Troy Bayliss went on to win the 2006 World Superbike Championship with 431 points to James Toseland’s 336 and Noriyuki Haga on 326. Troy Corser finished season 2006 in fourth place while Andrew Pitt made it three Australians in the top five by finishing the season on 250 points, four less than Corser.  As was rumoured in this story that we published at the time, Alex Barros did join World Superbike for season 2006 and finished in sixth place. Karl Muggeridge finished the season in 12th place. Steve Martin was 21st for the season on 24 points.