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The Race for Pit Stop Perfection

The Race for Pit Stop Perfection

During the course of this weekend's Suzuka 8 Hour race, the #21 Yamaha Factory Racing team YZF-R1 will stop a minimum of seven times for fuel, tyres and a rider change. The pit stops are critical, as time lost during a stop is very difficult to make up on track. Even a five second delay at the pit stop can leave a team chasing the deficit for 10 laps or more and, ultimately, it's a loss they may never make up before the end of the race.

So, speed is essential once the bike comes to a stop outside the pit box. Endurance racing teams, including the Yamaha Factory Racing Team, use specialised equipment to ensure they get both tyres changed, the bike refueled and the new rider onboard in the shortest time possible.

On such piece of equipment is the front stand. While all race teams utilise front stands, the one used by the Yamaha Factory Racing Team for midrace pit stops includes a number of features designed specifically to speed up the process of removing and then replacing the front wheel. 

The stand features an outrigger wheel that protrudes from the main strut (the blue aluminium piece in the photo). This outrigger ensures that the stand is inserted at exactly the right angle to engage on the bottom of the fork legs every time.

The main strut is also damped so that the force used to operate the stand, which can be considerable in the heat of a midrace pit stop, doesn't dislodge the fork legs from the stand.

Small details, but critical for the pit stop, where even the smallest delay could mean the difference between victory or defeat.