Preview: The World Comes To Miller

Press Release | May 25, 2011

The following is from Honda…

Castrol Honda Superbike World Championship competitors Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus should be in fine form as they pick up the challenge offered by the impressive Miller Motorsports Park venue, with each rider having enjoyed a positive experience while testing at the 4.907km circuit on 22 and 23 May 2011.Weather conditions were often unfavorable during the Miller test sessions, but enough dry track time was available to prove to the team that the new rear swingarm and front forks they evaluated were genuine improvements, especially when tackling the bumpy track conditions they found at MMP.The well-appointed American circuit is Castrol Honda’s designated test track, an unusual move for some to understand as it is far from the team’s regular European center of activities. After a disappointing round for Rea in the USA last year, it was decided that Miller would be the best possible test venue to help both riders keep the development momentum going before two back-to-back races come along at Misano and Aragon in mid June.Rea ended his tests pleased with the outcome, even if he did not get all the work he wanted to do completed, simply because of the ever-changing weather conditions. Jonathan is currently fourth in the championship, 29 points behind second place and 28 points behind third place. Carlos Checa (Ducati) has a handsome championship lead, but with only four rounds of 13 completed the season still has a long way to go.Ruben Xaus benefitted from the MMP tests by finding what he believes is a solid base to work from despite the arrival of occasional rain and a small crash on day one holding back his overall push. He also worked on improvements with his machine’s braking system. Ruben is 15th in the championship currently, but only four points from 12th place.More work will be needed from the team and each rider during practice and qualifying at MMP to make full evaluations of the available control tyre options over race distance.Uniquely, the two 21-lap MMP races will take place on a Monday again, as race weekend is designed to culminate on the US national Memorial Day holiday. Miller is also now out on its own in the calendar as the only remaining high altitude WSBK circuit, now that Kyalami in South Africa is no longer featured in the series.The Supersport World Championship class does not feature on the MMP race programme this year, but all classes will converge on Misano for the San Marino round, on Sunday June 12.WSBK Rider Comments

Jonathan Rea, Castrol Honda says: “We nominated Miller as our test track this year because last season we really struggled with bike set-up. I really enjoy riding here in America, but the bumpy nature of the track makes it very difficult to find the optimum settings for the bike. My team have pulled out all the stops though, and we had a lot of new items to test. The weather wasn’t on our side, so the track conditions were pretty dirty out there. I found a better feeling for corner entry with a new swing-arm and this really helpedthe feeling when the tyre life starts to drop. I also had some newsuspension items to test and, while we found some positives, it will take more time to get it dialled in properly. We are in much better shape now to start the weekend and as always we will do our best.”

Ruben Xaus, Castrol Honda says: “We know that Miller has some difficult features because it’s very bumpy due to a lot of cars using this track. We experienced a lot of chatter on the first day, which we struggled to find a solution for. I tried to adapt my riding style a little to improve the lap times, but unfortunately had a small crash in the afternoon which stopped our progress. The morning of the second day we worked hard to improve the set-up and lap times in between some pretty bad weather conditions and in the end found something better. We tried a new brake system and a softer chassis which made a really positive step forward, as well as helping me find a longer life for the tyres, which is really important for this track. I’m pleased to say that I finally found a good base set-up for the race weekend so hopefully I can help to push the whole team forward.”The following is from Suzuki…Team Alstare Suzuki World Superbike rider Michel Fabrizio heads to America this week for round five of the series with increased confidence following his podium in the last round at Monza.This will be the fourth time that Miller Motorsport Park in Salt Lake City, Utah has hosted a WSBK event and this year’s race once again takes place on a Monday, Memorial Day, and a Public Holiday.In the past three years, Fabrizio has done well at the 4.907 kilometre circuit and has taken four podiums. The track is situated at high altitude, which saps engine performance, and so Team Alstare Suzuki engineers have to make sure that their GSX-R1000s are performing as strongly as possible.Michel Fabrizio: “The first time we went out on the track here, I thought there was something wrong with my bike, because it seemed slow. But we all soon realized that it was because we were so high up and the engine performance was affected. It’s the same for everybody of course and now we are much more used to it.

The track is quite technical and there are a variety of curves to keep you on your toes.”Last year was not so good for me, but the year before that I got a second and a third place. It’s a very tough season this year and our team has been working very hard to give me a competitive bike and that’s why I was so happy to get on the podium at Monza – I felt that we deserved it.”It’s always a mixed blessing being in a one-rider team because although you get a lot of attention, there is nobody to exchange information with. For sure, if there were two riders in the team, we would probably progress more quickly. But that’s not the case, so we all just have to get down to it and do the best we can. After the last round, I am thinking that more podiums are possible and it would be great to get one – or maybe two!”The following is from InFront Sports…The FIM Superbike World Championship takes its second and final trip overseas this year as it heads for the Miller Motorsports Park circuit in the USA. This year’s event, round 5, will be the fourth edition to be held in the State of Utah. The 4.907 km circuit, which lies 1300 metres above sea level, is located half-an-hour’s drive away from the capital Salt Lake City and is on the edge of the Great Salt Lake basin, not far from the world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats. The rarified atmosphere has an effect on performance, with engine power loss estimated at 10%.

As is tradition, the Miller Motorsports Round will be held on Monday, as part of the Memorial Day weekend (28-30 May), when the entire nation plays tribute to its armed forces. As a result, first qualifying takes place on Saturday, the Tissot Superpole on the Sunday and the two WSBK races on the Monday. World Superbike will be the only one of the four regular categories to be present at Miller, with World Supersport, Superstock 1000 and Superstock 600 taking a break until their next round at Misano Adriatico.

Current championship leader Carlos Checa will undoubtedly be the star attraction on his Althea Racing Ducati machine as he aims to make up for disappointing runs at Monza. Checa has a 27 point lead over second-placed man Marco Melandri (Yamaha World Superbike), but the Spaniard, despite missing out on two wins last year due to mechanical failure, does have a double win to his name at Utah, in the event’s first edition in 2008.

And still on the same subject, the Miller circuit appears to lend itself to double winners, with Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) taking the honours in 2010 following on from Ben Spies (Yamaha) in 2009, both becoming champions at the end of the year. So that statistic may play into the hands of Ireland’s Eugene Laverty (Yamaha World Superbike), WSBK’s latest victor, who opened up his scorecard with a double win at the last round in Monza. Laverty is now in fifth place, sixty points adrift of leader Checa.

Four points ahead of Laverty is his fellow Irishman, Jonathan Rea (Castrol Honda). Nominating Miller as the team’s designated test track following set-up problems last year and completing two days of positive testing on Sunday and Monday could prove to be a winning move for the Dutch squad and good results here will help to galvanize Rea’s title bid.

BMW Motorrad Motorsport scored their second podium of the season at Monza, with Leon Haslam on board, but the German squad are still searching for that elusive breakthrough in their third year of WSBK activity. Haslam is the man who is getting closer and closer and not even a broken toe he picked up in a first chicane clash at Monza will prevent the Englishman from giving 100% over the Utah weekend.

Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki Alstare) always goes well at Miller and is a firm fans’ favourite, but the Italian is slightly handicapped this year by being a singleton entry for the Belgium-based squad. However Fabrizio was a podium finisher at Monza and has taken home good points from virtually every race this year.

Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) and Jakub Smrz (Effenbert-Liberty Ducati) are next up in the current standings, with one podium apiece to their name this year, while Noriyuki Haga (PATA Aprilia Racing) rounds out the top 10.

The Kawasaki Racing Team still need time to get their new ZX-10R machine to a competitive level, and with top rider Chris Vermeulen struggling with an 15-month long injury, it’s left to Tom Sykes and the talented youngster Joan Lascorz to show flashes of form.

The final big name on the entry list to watch for is James Toseland (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team), the former winner also still struggling to get back to form after a nasty wrist injury, while Miller will see a welcome return for the young Australian Josh Waters, and his all-Japanese Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team for their second appearance of the year.

The ‘BigM Weekend’ will have World Superbike as its feature event, while the rest of the programme will include AMA Pro Road Racing support races from the national Superbike Championship, the Daytona SportBike Championship, Supersport and XR1200s. Currently in the lead of their respective classes are Josh Hayes (Yamaha R1) in Superbike, Jason Di Salvo (Ducati 848) in SportBike and Tomas Puerta (Yamaha R6) in Supersport.The following is from Yamaha…Fresh from the recent successful tests in Aragon, the Yamaha World Superbike Team head west for the next stop on the 2011 World Superbike calendar which will take place in Miller Motorsports Park (MMP), on Memorial Day, Monday 30th May . Situated just 35 miles from Salt Lake City in Utah and 1,340 metres in altitude, MMP is set amidst a picturesque backdrop offering unique sightlines for spectators.

The track was originally conceived by Larry H. Miller as a personal playground and novelty track but due to the popularity of motorcycles in the area it soon developed into a project which would become renowned as the finest facility of its type in North American, hosting the most significant production model racing series in the World. The track first opened in 2006 and welcomed the World Superbikes in June 2008. As a contrast to the historic circuit in Monza, MMP is a new, modern road layout with four separate internal courses but it is equally challenging and technically demanding. The World Superbike Championship is held on the 3.06 mile outer course, one of the fastest track layouts in North America. The circuit is practically flat, incorporating several significant elevation changes adding character and challenge. 
The Yamaha YZF R1 has not disappointed on the American track in previous years. 2009 saw Ben Spies take a double win on the road to the championship title and in 2010 Cal Crutchlow also gained a place on the podium.

Marco Melandri heads to Miller Motorsports Park for the first time, after proving yet again in Monza that unfamiliar track layouts are no obstacle. The Italian is currently sitting second in the championship standings and is determined to close the 27 point gap in this coming Monday’s races. Eugene Laverty jumped up the classification to fifth place after his sensational double victory in Monza. Further motivated by his recent winning streak, Laverty goes West with intention of closing the gap and continuing to prove to be a strong contender for a top position in the 2011 championship.Marco Melandri”It’s another completely new track for me but I’ve heard plenty positive comments so I’m eager to go there and experience it for myself. On the down side, I know it’s one of Checa’s best tracks! I intend trying to close the gap between us in the standings but that won’t be easy in Miller. I’m pretty sure we will be very competitive, obtain good results and enjoy the weekend in Salt Lake City.”Eugene Laverty”I am really looking forward to the weekend at Miller Motorsports Park especially after my double win in Monza. It’s probably one of the tracks where I have performed best in the past so it should be an ideal place to pick up where I left off in the last race, just less than 3 weeks ago! I have always been immediately quite fast in Miller on the supersport bike and hopefully I will be again this year on my R1. The bike is working very well, so I’m feeling pretty confident that I can have a good weekend.”


By Press Release