Yamaha YZR500 Grand Prix Test at Suzuka
Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano rode a 500cc Grand Prix machine for the first time
15 years ago, December 8th 2000, we published this story on MCNews.com.au
NB: The last Motorcycle Grand Prix hosted at Suzuka was in 2003. After Daijiro Kato lost his life in accident at the circuit in that year the series has never again hosted a MotoGP round at the Suzuka circuit due to safety concerns, the Japanese GP was moved to Twin Ring Motegi from 2004 onwards. Kato died from injuries sustained after hitting the wall near the Casio Triangle chicane at around 200km/h.
For a reference in regards to lap times, Katsuyuki Nakasuga took pole for this year’s, 2015 Suzuka 8 Hour Superbike race with a 2m06.000 lap around the 5.821km Suzuka motorcycle layout.
Valentino Rossi recorded a 2m04.370 on a five-cylinder four-stroke Honda RC-211V during the 2003 Suzuka Japanese Motorcycle Grand Prix. The last time MotoGP visited the Suzuka circuit.
The Yamaha Grand Prix Team – Testing at Suzuka – December 2000
Early in December 2000, an open test session was held at Suzuka.
Representing Yamaha were Chesterfield Yamaha Tech 3 teammates Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano and Red Bull Yamaha WCM’s Noriyuki Haga, all testing the YZR500.
Olivier Jacque – (Best lap time: 2m07.51s) – “Before coming to Suzuka, I rode the YZR500 for the very first time at the Yamaha Test Course. At that time it was a completely new machine and course for me, and what’s more the track was wet. I just had so much I had to learn that it all ended before I really got to try out the machine. Since I have run at Suzuka before, I was finally able to enjoy being on a 500cc machine a bit. Since it is a new machine there is a lot of information I have to digest, so I haven’t really been able to run all out yet. But, it seems to suit me well. Since I have won the 250cc world championship, I think it is great to be able to take on a high-level new challenge like this. Next season I am going to do my best to get up on the winners’ podium, but of course I want to win too.”
Shinya Nakano – (Best lap time: 2m07.58s) – “When I first started riding I wasn’t really as thrilled as I thought I would be. But, as I began to run a few more laps I started thinking about the greats like Rainey and Schwantz who have run this course on a 500cc machine and then I started to feel the weight and excitement. Of course the speed of the 500cc machine is completely different from the 250cc. Because of the speed, you have to anticipate all your moves earlier; it felt like I was watching myself race with the video on fast-forward! I just tried to do as many laps as possible to get used to the machine, but at the end I was more tired mentally than physically. We made steady progress on the settings but there are still some parts that aren’t quite like I would like them. Anyway, I need to get used to the machine more, so I am just going to do as much test riding as I can to prepare for next season.”
Noriyuki Haga – (Best lap time: 2m08:36s) – “This was my first time on the YZR500 here since the 1998 Japan GP, but the feeling of the machine hasn’t changed that much, so I didn’t really have any reservations about it. Still, theses test have been my first time on a 2-stroke machine in some time, so I have to get used to it more. Also, we have only just begun to work on the settings. We’re still trying one thing and then going back; I still don’t have a sense of what is what yet. But, one thing I believe is that if you can get the machine set up well in the winter off-season, it gives you the chance to be in a good position to compete from the beginning of the season.”