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Racing in the Dark at the Suzuka 8 Hours

Racing in the Dark at the Suzuka 8 Hours

Unlike the "headlights" on the WorldSBK specification YZF-R1 machines, which are just stickers, the headlights on the endurance racing version of the bike are very real and very necessary, given that at least part of this weekend's Suzuka 8 Hours will be raced in the dark.

Both the Yamaha Factory Racing Team and the YART Yamaha EWC Team use the LED Projector headlights that are fitted as standard to the road going Yamaha YZF-R1. However, the beams are not aligned in the same way that they would be on a road bike, where both beams point straight ahead.

Instead, one headlight is level and the beam points straight forward, so the rider can see where he's going when he's on the gas, while the other is angled upwards so that the beam illuminates the track when the rider is hard on the brakes and the fork legs are at maximum compression, which causes the nose of the bike to dip. Without this offset, every time the rider hit the brakes the reach of the headlight beams would be significantly reduced, leaving only a short section of the track immediately in front of the bike illuminated.

The regulations for the FIM Endurance World Championship also require teams to run three individual taillights. This requirement is met on both the Yamaha Factory Racing Team and YART Yamaha EWC YZF-R1 machines using three individual LED arrays. For safety, one of the rear LED arrays is powered directly from the bike's battery, which provides redundancy in case of an electrical failure.

The regulations for endurance racing also specify that the numbers on the bike be illuminated, to facilitate identification at night. While many EWC teams use electroluminescent panels, the number boards on the Yamaha Factory Racing Team YZF-R1 machines, located on the front of the fairing and on the top of the tail unit, are custom formed, single LCD panels with a mask placed over the top so only the number is visible.