Our 2012 Yamaha R1 had given us entire satisfaction since the very first session of winter testing. The traction control and new electronics package brought us newfound competitiveness. Of course, we still have a lot of development work to do but we experienced no setbacks. After very good pre-Bol testing, we put the bike in the third qualifying position for the race and were cautiously optimistic.
At the end of a difficult first stint on the bike due to a rain shower just before the race start, David Checa reported an unusual performance deficit. This was quickly confirmed by Kenny Foray and Matthieu Lagrive after they completed their relays on a dry track. They simply could not match the lap times they had clocked dozens of times in practice. They were down about 1 second per lap, and most importantly, it was now difficult to pass other bikes with higher top speeds.
In spite of those difficulties, race circumstances soon allowed us to settle into third position. Thanks to flawless pit work from the team and the good performance of our Michelin tires, we managed to defend that position until about a half hour before the end of the race. But the unstable handling of our bike did not allow our riders to fight for third place, which we had held for more than 22 hours. We eventually lost by 59 seconds and missed the final podium spot.
We still have much to learn about the new electronics package. But as a whole, the race was encouraging for us and this is a positive result. Scoring very valuable fourth place points is a good start to the championship. The team was flawless and the riders did an excellent job. Perfect pit stops allowed us to spend minimal amounts of time refueling and changing tires. Our new R1 confirmed the potential we saw in winter testing and the Michelin tires are competitive in all conditions. We are certain that we will soon return to the podium.