Set-up report Catalunya Round 6

Setup

Round: 6, Catalunya 
Country: Spain
Track length: 4727 m
Opened: 1991
Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 44.523 (Max Biaggi, 2002 - MotoGP)
MotoGP lap record: 1' 45.594 (Valentino Rossi, 2002)
Last year MotoGP winner: Valentino Rossi
GP250 lap record: 1' 47.585 (Valentino Rossi, 1998)
Last year GP250 winner: Marco Melandri
Circuit tel: +34 93 5719700
Circuit web site: http://www.circuitcat.com

2002 MotoGP race summary
Carlos Checa put in a crowd-pleasing performance on the Yamaha YZR-M1 to take his second podium result aboard the all-new four-stroke machine. And the location for his determined third place couldn't have been more appropriate than his hometown arena, the Catalunya circuit. After a strong start the Spaniard slid past early race leader Tohru Ukawa (Honda) on lap one and remained in control until the defending MotoGP World Champion, Valentino Rossi (Honda), powered by. The Italian made his move at the end of the main straight, just after half race distance, and went on to win the race by a mere 0.880 seconds. On lap 17 Ukawa also slipped by the #. 7 YZR-M1 in a similar fashion to follow his teammate across the line for a team one two finish.

Max Biaggi (Yamaha) completed the four-stroke foursome, which demolished the rest of the MotoGP field, to end the day three seconds adrift of his teammate and 12 seconds ahead of the first two-stroke challenger – Alex Barros (Honda).

Olivier Jacque (Yamaha) survived a four-bike pile-up on the opening lap to claim ninth, just ahead of Yamaha teenage sensation John Hopkins. The Frenchman, who felt he might have gone into the turn “a little too hot”, had no idea of the scale of the incident until he saw the replay after the race. Norick Abe (Yamaha) was the first of three to crash out, with Shinya Nakano (Yamaha) and Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Honda) completing the unlucky list.

Set-up report YZR-M1
As a MotoGP circuit Barcelona offers a main straight capable of encouraging speeds exceeding 330kmh, and is completed by a sequence of long radius, medium/high speed sweepers and two tight left-hand hairpins. In some regards Barcelona resembles Jerez (Spain); with bumps an issue for riders on the entry to the braking areas – although less intense. But the combination of long radius corners riddled with a variety of cambers makes it more demanding on chassis balance. For this reason the 4727m circuit is always a feature on the pre-season IRTA test calendar, and is often considered to be the true indicator of a bikes full potential.

Due to the long-radius sweepers front-end feel is a key concern for every rider, but it must be found without sacrificing the overall balance of the machine, as too much time is spent feathering the power though the sides of the tyres before punching the bike out onto the next straight. With handling the M1’s strength the Yamaha engineers will make little modification to the geometry, when compared with what is used in Mugello. And of this minimal modification, the geometry will be fettled for a little extra front-end bias. Most of this will be achieved, however, not through chassis modifications, but rather straightforward suspension preload and damping adjustments.

With the time spent at full lean, and the negative effect this has on suspension performance, slightly lighter spring weights will be used, when compared with Mugello. This will ensure the Öhlins forks are still able to absorb the bumps effectively in the turns, while the preload will be wound on to compensate for any resulting G-force, or the effects caused by the heavy braking at the end of the main straight. The damping will then support this set-up – slightly softer on the compression and rebound – the rear spring preload, however, will be very similar to that used in the previous round. This will prevent the bike from squatting, and then running wide under power – especially at the long right-hand run onto the front straight, which determines the eventual top speed and slipstream potential.

The nature of the circuit ensures tyre life often comes up in many pitbox discussions between riders and crew chiefs, and this will only be amplified if the Spanish weather provides its anticipated high temperatures. Meanwhile engine performance will be focused on midrange and top-end, with throttle connection and linearity factored into the fuel-injection mapping to ensure confidence in powering on early.