Yoshimura Suzuki completed its third "Wild Card" entry of 2011 at the final round of the World Superbike Championship at Portimao in Portugal and came away upbeat after two race finishes and more valuable technical data to take back to Japan.
Australian Josh Waters and the aftermarket parts-tuning giant, mixed it with the world's WSBK regulars on a track unknown to all of them and took home 21st and an 18th position in the hotly-contested 22-lap races on arguably the 'most-beautifully-prepared and looking machine on the grid,' according to the media - and at the most-difficult and technically-demanding circuit on the calendar.
Riding a modified version of the team's Suzuka 8-Hour Endurance machine - and on completely different tyres than the bike was set-up for - that Waters, Yukio Kagayama and Nobu Aoki brought home to a close second-placed finish in July, Waters continued a steep learning curve, both for himself and the team; at the cutting-edge of world-level competition.
Josh Waters - Race 1: 21st, Race 2: 18th:
"To say that today has been hard is an understatement. All weekend, we've been working as hard as we can, but we've been up against a load of people with a lot more experience than us and that experience told today. We've been trying to get our bike set up in just three days, whereas the others here have had all season. Part of the problem is that the last time I rode this bike was in the Suzuka 8 Hour race and then it was on different tyres. The bike was set up for those tyres and so we've spent a lot of time trying to get the bike to work on the Pirellis here. That, together with learning the hardest track on the calendar has been a real challenge.
"But I am so happy to have been here and so happy that Yoshimura gave me this chance. As I said yesterday, we've had to learn a lot in a very short space of time - and that is never easy. The results probably don't look so good, but the team and I have tried our very best and we can hold our heads up that we have done so. It was good to have a dice with a fellow Aussie in race two and generally great fun competing against all the top guys. Hopefully, we'll get the chance to do it again soon.
"I had a problem with the shifter in the first race and had to pit. The team made some changes to it and I went out again, but the stop meant I had lost a lot of time, so 21st wasn't a bad result. Race two was a bit better, but these guys don't give anything away at all. We've been up against top riders and top teams who have tested here before and gained lots of information, whereas we were starting from scratch. But, we've learnt a lot and can take that with us for the next time."
Yohei Kato - Team Manager:
"Josh had problems in race one with the gear shift lever and had to pit, so we could make some adjustments to it. He went out again, but obviously he had lost a lot of time and was way down the field. We're a bit disappointed with the results today, but we knew it was going to be a hard weekend. It has been a very big learning experience for all of us in the team and we will build on this knowledge for the future."
Final World Superbike Results:
Race 1: 1 Carlos Checa (ESP-Ducati, 2 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Ducati), 3 Jonathan Rea (GBR-Honda), 4 Max Biaggi (ITA-Aprilia), 5 Joan Lascorz (ESP-Kawasaki), 6 Marco Melandri (ITA-Yamaha). 21 Josh Waters (JPN-Yoshimura Suzuki).
Race 2: 1 Melandri, 2 Eugene Laverty (GBR-Yamaha), 3 Rea, 4 Checa, 5 Guintoli, 6 Leon Camier. 18 Josh Waters (JPN-Yoshimura Suzuki).