VIRGIN LEAD AT SNETTERTON

After two days of arctic conditions at the Norfolk circuit, the Virgin Media Optoma Loans Yamaha riders were greeted by radiant sunshine for the final day of the official 2007 Bennetts British Superbike test.

It was well worth the wait with three of the four riders finishing in the top 4 of their respective classes.

The Snetterton track layout lends itself for an ideal proving ground, with two of the longest straights linked by a series of fast corners and testing chicanes. Amidst a flurry of media photo calls, the riders finally took the circuit for the second planned session of the day.

All four riders worked extensively on bike set-up and Pirelli tyre choice throughout the two sessions they had on the circuit. Tommy Hill posted consistent lap times that saw him finish the day in an encouraging fourth position. James Haydon completed 21-laps during the first session before a technical problem in the afternoon put a premature end to his test. However, with work on fine-tuning suspension and tyre choices, the time in the saddle proved beneficial for Haydon ahead of the coming season.

The Virgin Media Yamaha Supersport pairing of Billy McConnell and Tom Grant dominated proceedings around the 1.952-mile Snetterton circuit. With Tom the quickest in the first session, it was all change for the afternoon, with Billy occupying the top slot for the majority of the session.

Virgin Media Optoma Loans Yamaha will take in one final test at Cadwell Park next Friday, 20 March, before they head south to Brands Hatch for the opening round of the 2007 season over the Easter weekend of 7 – 9 April.

Tommy Hill: “I’m really happy with the way that this weekend has gone. I came here in a really positive frame of mind, waiting to beat the top guys, and now I know I can. Looking forward to Brands Hatch.”

Tom Grant: “I’m pretty pleased with the way our testing has gone so far. Today we tested a lot of tyres so I feel that I’ve not banked loads of laps but I’m glad that we are up there in the top three. We are chipping away at it to find the perfect set-up. We’ve a bit more testing to do before Brands, so even more improvements to make.”

Billy McConnell: “I’m really happy to be lapping so fast and of course being fastest brings added confidence. We are starting to find that perfect set-up but there is more to come from both myself and the bike. It’s happy days.”

Rob McElnea, Team Owner: “Well, of course we are pleased, it’s the first time we’ve been on track with the rest of the grid. We’ve got limited miles on our bikes so we are over the moon. The situation with James’s bike is not ideal but we will know more back at base. Tommy is continuing to show his maturity and he’s up there where we need him to be. It’s the very first time we’ve seen our Supersport bikes out with any competition and we are really pleased with the first impression of the bikes, long may it continue.”

1. (4) Jonathan Rea – HM Plant Honda – 1:05.010, 2. (91) Leon Haslam – Airwaves Ducati – 1:05.829, 3. (1) Ryuichi Kiyonari – HM Plant Honda – 1:06.002, 4. (8) Tommy Hill – Virgin Media Optoma Loans Yamaha – 1:06.106 (22 laps), 5. (36) Gregorio Lavilla – Airwaves Ducati – 1:06.165, 6. (66) Tom Sykes – Stobart Motorsport – 1:06.386, 7. (2) Leon Camier – Bike Animal Honda – 1:06.473, 8. (67) Shane Byrne – Stobart Motorsport – 1:06.677, 9. (9) Chris Walker – Rizla Suzuki –1:06.963, 10. (35) Cal Crutchlow – Rizla Suzuki – 1:06.984, 11. (5) Karl Harris – Hydrex Honda – 1:07.737, 12. Michael Rutter – MSS Kawasaki – 1:07.764
1. (4) Billy McConnell – Virgin Media Yamaha – 1:08.872 (19 Laps), 2. (3) Stuart Easton – MSS Discovery Kawasaki – 1:09.473, 3. (70) Tom Grant – Virgin Media Yamaha – 1:09.605 (17 Laps), 4. (47) Richard Cooper – AIM Racing – 1:10.627, 5. (14) Christian Elkin (c) – BBR Racing – 1:12.092, 6. (18) Ian Hutchinson – Honda Racing – 1:12.767, 7. (21) Alex Lowes – Double Vision Racing – 1:12.908, 8. (12) Sam Lowes – Double Vision Racing – 1:12.920, 9. (54) Jack Groves (c) – Kingswood Moto-Sport – 1:13.952, 10. (76) Ross Walter (c) – Matravers Interserve Racing – 1:15.021, 11. (9) Jack Wright (c) – Hawk Kawasaki Juniors – 1:15.549, 12. (46) John Robb – NEAT Ltd – 1:15.595

 

 

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