Set-up Mugello Round 5

Setup

Round: 5
June 2, 2002
Circuit: Mugello
Country: Italy
Track length: 5245 m
Opened: 1974
Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 52.454 (Tetsuya Harada, 1999 - MotoGP)
MotoGP lap record: 1' 53.342 (Michael Doohan, 1998)
Last year MotoGP winner: Alex Barros
GP250 lap record: 1' 54.462 (Shinya Nakano, 2000)
Last year GP250 winner: Tetsuya Harada
Circuit tel: +39 055 8499111
Circuit web site: http://www.mugellocircuit.it

2001 race summary
After leading the first leg of a two-part rain-effected 2001 Italian MotoGP Marlboro Yamaha rider Max Biaggi ended up third overall, based on the aggregate race time. The Italian led the final five laps of the dry seven lap opening leg, building a half a second buffer over the competition and held the advantage for the full wet 16 lap re-start. He then went on to repeat his first-leg start and took the early race lead before eventual race winner (based on aggregate times) Alex Barros (Honda) slipped by to head his teammate Loris Capirossi across the line for a one-two finish. Although on the track Biaggi slipped back through the field, he never relinquished second place on the time sheets until the closing stages of the race, when the conditions were so bad it was simply a case of survival.

Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin) put in an astounding performance in the wet to challenge the two lead Honda riders in the final moments of the race, but the Japanese lost the front of his YZR500 when he hit a puddle at the apex of the last chicane three laps from race’s end. He was leading at the time and remounted to claim seven points by finishing ninth. But Abe wasn’t alone when it came to falling victim to the conditions; the tally climbed to seven and even included Valentino Rossi (Honda) and Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) – the former crashing twice; once on the warm-up lap and then on the final lap of the race.

Set-up report YZR-M1
Considered one of the most beautiful, but more difficult circuits to dial in a MotoGP machine, Mugello has claimed its fair share of victims since it was opened in 1974 – usually as a result of a front-end lose. It’s the side effect of the circuit’s layout, which is greatly influenced by its surrounding geography. Located in the beautiful Tuscan hills the venue boasts a sequence of undulating medium to high-speed corners combined with a straight where even the 500 two-stroke is capable of producing an outright top speed of 315kmh. Just imagine what the top speed will be for the latest four-stroke incarnations.

It is for this very reason the Marlboro Yamaha Team will take advantage of the opportunity to sample the latest YZR-M1 chassis at the Italian circuit. The all new frame, two of which will be available (one for Biaggi and one for Carlos Checa), was initially penciled in to be tested for the first time during the Valencia test the week following Mugello, but in an ongoing effort by Yamaha to find a competitive edge it will now make it’s debut during Friday qualifying. It will line up alongside the current chassis to offer a direct comparison; with the key difference revolving around the geometry, a change that, unlike the units before it, is visually quite different.

The main aim for the team will be to find a balanced geometry that will provide the rider with the ability to change direction quickly through the high-speed switchbacks especially through the tricky right-hander at the end of the main straight. This corner, to some extent, is the key to a fast time around Mugello as it influences the next sequence of turns dramatically.

But most important of all will be the need for Yamaha’s chassis technicians to provide a front-end setting which will offer the rider the front-end feedback while braking into the downhill Mugello turns – especially onto the front straight, influencing the corner exit speed and eventual top speed.

While on the topic of top speed, the YZR-M1 in-line four-cylinder powerplant will be tuned to offer a stronger the midrange and top end power delivery, in turn increasing the top speed potential. Yet this will be done without sacrificing the predictability off the turns. The team will also continue with the latest electronic engine braking system, which proved to be such success in Le Mans – the key advantage being a vast improvement in braking stability.

Set-up report YZR500
Unlike Le Mans and Jerez, the front-end for both the M1 and the YZR500 won’t require such hard fork springs as the braking needs aren’t quite as extreme at the Italian circuit. There is also no major issue concerning bumps entering the turns, resulting in a more linear medium-damping characteristic.

Where bumps are an issue will be on the exit of the turns. To ensure Yamaha riders will be able to find the necessary drive a medium to high rear spring-rate will be used with the possibility of a longer swingarm (depending on the rider), along with progressive damping and rear suspension linkage rates. It will also be necessary to prevent squatting on the rear as riders wind the power on in the well-banked, high G-force corners. This will be more of a concern for the four-stroke teams than the two-strokes, as it will be at almost every circuit, due to their heavier weight limits and high power outputs. If the bike were to squat it would prove difficult for the rider to holding the racing line, preventing them from opening the throttle early enough to achieve a competitive exit speed.

Since drive is so important, and the Mugello surface has proven to be reasonably abrasive, a medium to hard compound 16.5inch rear tyre is the most likely combination come race day. Its consistency over race distance and good side grip will prove to be an advantage. Although it is possible that the odd 17.0inch rear will make an appearance as it is known to offer better handling traits in situations involving quick changes in direction.

For the two-stroke Yamaha will concentrate on taking advantage of the YZR500s impressive outright top speed by sacrificing a little bottom-end power. Although the linear delivery will not be compromised too greatly as feel and confidence off the turns determines the outright top speed at such a fast circuit. It is in this area that the four-strokes will have the greatest advantage, especially at this circuit. This is where the two-stroke engineers will need to focus most of their efforts – getting the lighter but less predictable machines off the turns more efficiently.