Yamaha Jim Beam V8
Steven Johnson, son of legendary touring car racer Dick Johnson, couldn’t imagine a training regime that didn’t include regular dirt bike sessions, attributing much of his physical race fitness to cross-training aboard his Pro Yamaha supplied WR450F.
When they’re not tearing up the tarmac on four wheels, Australia’s fastest V8 Supercar drivers turn to Yamaha’s range of dirt bikes for both fun and fitness. While the rigors of the sport are often documented, the endurance ability required to successfully pilot a 1.4 tonne touring car lap after lap is largely underestimated. Drivers find that dirt-bike riding helps them to increase overall fitness, and assists with the sharpening of reflexes and reaction time, an all-important aspect now that the category is so competitive.
With lap times from 1st to 31st often only separated by a second or two, the ability to find every thousandth of a second possible is valuable, and can mean the difference in qualifying mid-pack or on pole position. For Craig Lowndes, Steven Johnson, Will Davison, Todd Kelly and Nathan Pretty, barely a few days pass when they don’t head out to their local trails and tackle some of the area’s challenging natural terrain.
And their weapon of choice? It varies, but any one of these drivers could be seen dominating the dirt on the 450cc or 250cc machines from the YZ or WR range.For Craig Lowndes, 2006 Bathurst winner and V8 Supercar Series runner-up, the WR450F plays a significant part in his weekly cross-training regime.
Based in Kilcoy on the Sunshine Coast, Lowndes lives with his family on acreage, and finds riding his Yamaha 4 to 5 times a week helps him to maintain peak fitness and stay sharp, with gaps between weekend competition often reaching a month or more.
"As a V8 driver its important that we regularly have a high level of fitness to deal with the stresses on the body and high temperatures within the cars, I find that riding the WR450F around the farm throughout the week is a real advantage and is a perfect way to keep my eye in for events," said Lowndes. "When we get to the endurance events at Sandown and Bathurst, fitness is everything, and you need to be absolutely focused and precise with your racing line selection lap after lap."
On his way to winning the hallowed Mount Panorama event last season, Lowndes completed over 500km of high-speed laps, forced to draw on every last store of energy and endurance he could muster. "Certainly without the aid of my dirtbiking I would have struggled immensely, it's such a valuable method of training and great fun too."
Steven Johnson, son of legendary touring car racer Dick Johnson, couldn’t imagine a training regime that didn’t include regular dirt bike sessions, attributing much of his physical race fitness to cross-training aboard his Pro Yamaha supplied WR450F. Johnson said the physical limits that drivers endure could not simply be met by regular gym or cardio training, and said that the effortless power of his Yamaha made for a complete workout as he took on trails in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
"As V8 Supercars grow, so does the level of professionalism and competitiveness. If you're going to be a serious challenger you need to adapt your fitness to suit the confines of a racecar and riding my Yamaha I find it is the perfect way to develop the required strengths," said Johnson.
His Jim Beam Racing teammate Will Davison is also a strong believer in his Yamaha dirt bike as a potent training tool, and regularly frequents trail rides with Johnson, making the pairing one of the fittest in the field and a leading contender at the long-distance events.
When he's not dancing with the stars, so to speak, TV personality and V8 Supercar Development Series driver Grant Denyer is another high profile name who chooses Yamaha as his preferred brand of dirt bike. Campaigning a Falcon in the Ford Rising Stars Program, Denyer finds his dirt bike helps him to stay competitive and relishes every opportunity to take to the trails and get in some practice.
And it’s not only the Ford drivers that are incorporating the manufacturer’s range into their fitness programs, with leading Holden racer Todd Kelly also selecting Yamaha as his preferred brand of bike. Kelly, who lives in Mildura, spends much of his time off trailblazing through the Victorian Highlands, and is another V8 Supercar driver who has had considerable success in some of the more gruelling events, including a Bathurst win.
Former Formula 1 test pilot and current V8 Supercar driver Max Wilson was the latest to add a Yamaha to his garage last week, with the talented Brazilian opting for a 2007 YZF-R1 to stretch his legs in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Fun and fitness, the perfect formula for Australia’s leading V8 Supercar drivers, and they get it done day in day out with the superior reliability, handling and performance from Yamaha.