The first official engagement of the 2009 Superbike season, the Pirelli Tests, took place on the Kyalami circuit in South Africa. On the track were Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano with the brand new Aprilia RSV4s that faced off directly with the competition from the other official teams.
Max Biaggi, who won his first 250cc race on September 6, 1992, only took part in the afternoon session of the first day of testing after his flight to Johannesburg was cancelled due to poor weather in France. Max nevertheless completed 25 laps with a best time of 1:42.446, seventh on the day.
It was a full day instead for Shinya Nakano, who completed 56 laps and finished sixth with his 1:41.846, focusing on the mechanical and gear shift settings.
“It's the first time for me here in Kyalami; before this I had only raced in Welkom – declared Nakano – and I passed this first part of the test by studying this track that is hard to get used to since it's so fast. I focused on the motorcycle's behaviour since it's only the second time I'm here. The situation continued to improve, lap after lap, and we found the right foundation for development for these next two days of testing. Now we are concentrating on improving the set-up and researching the best tyres.”
“Unfortunately, I was only able to race the final three hours of the day – said Max Biaggi – for 25 laps. We worked without rushing the times too much and itdidn't end badly. I studied the track and how the motorcycle behaved on it and then we turned our attention to the electronics and trajectory. Right now we need to make the most of the materials at our disposition. Only then will we think about incorporating any necessary mechanical modifications; otherwise we risk creating utterly unnecessary confusion with this project that is already competitive”.