Set-up report Suzuka Round 1


Round: 1, Japanese MotoGP
April 6, 2003
Circuit: Suzuka Circuit
Country: Japan
Track length: 5824 m
Opened: 1962
Fastest Lap Ever: 2' 4.226 (Valentino Rossi, 2002 - MotoGP)
MotoGP lap record: 2' 19.105 (Valentino Rossi, 2002)
Last year MotoGP winner: Valentino Rossi 

GP250 lap record: 2' 25.896 (Osamu Miyazaki, 2002)
Last year GP250 winner: Osamu Miyazaki
Circuit tel: +81 593 781111
Circuit web site: 

2002 MotoGP race summary
If the opening round to the 2002 season wasn’t unpredictable enough, with three tyre manufactures and a wide range of engine configurations – both four-strokes and two-strokes alike – contesting the new MotoGP World Championship, Suzuka added yet another variable – rain. After so much speculation about who would hold all the Aces, come race day the 21-lap event saw three four-stroke machines (from three different manufacturers) stand atop the podium – Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha.

For Yamaha it was the determination of Carlos Checa that put the YZR-M1 on the front row during qualifying, and this continued the moment the lights set the championship in motion come race day. The Spaniard nailed the start and led the entire field into turn one, but it was the aggressiveness of the local wildcard riders Shinichi Itoh (Honda) and Akira Ryo (Suzuki) that dictated the initial pace. Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Team) was there in third aboard the first two-stroke machine, just ahead of Checa and polesitter Valentino Rossi (Honda). But the Frenchman’s charge was only to last three laps before he was penalised for a jump start – returning to the pits for the ten second penalty before opting to retire.

A four-way battle formed between Ryo, Itoh, Rossi and Checa, with Rossi making his move on Ryo with six laps to run while Checa secured the final podium place off Itoh one lap later. Norick Abe (Yamaha) was the first two-stroke home in fifth after a poor start, after the local hero spent the race in a two-way scrap with Tohru Ukawa – on the third Honda four-stroke.

YZR-M1 Set-up Report
Yamaha is now entering the 2003 season with its latest generation YZR-M1, which will make its competitive debut at the opening round of the 2003 championship in Suzuka, Japan, April 6. Although the newest incarnation uses a similar 990cc inline-four four-stroke five-valve powerplant to that of last season it now features electronically controlled fuel injection, to improve the linearity of the power delivery, throttle connection to the rear wheel, and fuel consumption. This improved throttle connection will prove advantageous in Suzuka where the rider is constantly attempting to get the power down while exploring the limits of the rear tyre’s side grip. Drive is important, but so is control on a circuit where one corner influences the rider’s exit speed on the next.

The correct combination of rear spring weight, damping and rear shock suspension linkage ratios are a crucial factor in providing good drive and times at Suzuka, while also ensuring the ability to hold a tight line in preparation for the next series of linked turn. This will be supported by the M1’s new cylinder/crankcase layout, which, combined with the re-positioning within the chassis, has provided not only improved rear wheel traction under power but also front-end traction. The front-end traction will be provided by the dynamic weight transfer characteristics of the new chassis design – offering increased braking stability along with a neutral turning characteristic.

Due to the flowing nature of the Suzuka circuit this improved front-end performance will be a crucial advantage, and something Yamaha will aim to exploit with a set-up to suit. Since there is minimal hard braking taking place – only twice per lap – riders are likely to opt for a slightly plusher front-end for improved front-end feel and reduced understeer while trailing the throttle through the first series of linked bends. This may be adjusted slightly for the new circuit modifications, which have taken place entering the final chicane, but the overall effect are expected to be minimal on chassis set-up. Meanwhile lap times likely to be reduced by around one second.

The inline four-cylinder engine itself is all-new, when compared to that used in the final race of 2002. In addition to the modified crankcase it features an altered cylinder head angle and crankshaft, while boasting a more compact design and a 1kg weight saving. All this is achieved with the added advantage of a top end power increase and more linear torque/power curve. But the power race is ongoing, and since the initial pre-season tests Yamaha’s M1 powerplant will feature a further midrange and top-end power increase with the introduction of new engine internal components and a freer breathing exhaust system for riders Carlos Checa (Fortuna Yamaha Team) and Alex Barros (Gauloises Yamaha Team).

These two riders will also benefit from Yamaha’s YZR-M1’s improved aerodynamic package, developed in both wind tunnel and simulation tests. In addition to a noticeable gain on the higher speed straights this new fairing package also offers a stronger link to the company’s R series production line-up. The result is a much narrower fairing design, which still offers similar rider protection, while reducing overall drag. The remaining three Yamaha riders – Marco Melandri (Fortuna Yamaha Team), Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Team) and Shinya Nakano (d’Antin Yamaha Team) – will have access to these latest components as soon as the production lead time allows.