Set-up report Sachsenring Round 9

Setup

Round: 9, German MotoGP
Date: July 21, 2002
Circuit: Sachsenring
Country: Germany
Track length: 3704 m
Opened: 1966
Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 26.097 (Max Biaggi, 2001 - MotoGP) 
MotoGP lap record: 1' 26.808 (Shinya Nakano, 2001) 
Last year MotoGP winner: Max Biaggi 
GP250 lap record: 1' 27.233 (Marco Melandri, 2001) 
Last year GP250 winner: Marco Melandri 
Circuit tel: +49 3723 65330 
Circuit web site: http://www.sachsenring.de

2001 race summary
From the moment the Sachsenring round of the 2001 500 world championship began the race looked more like a Yamaha Cup event than a multi-manufacturer contest with no less than four YZR500s in the top four, and five in the top six. The Marlboro Yamaha Team led the Yamaha dominated 30-lap race in what was the team’s second one-two result for the season – Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa finishing first and second respectively. The Italian controlled the race from the first corner and never looked back, gradually building momentum, and a buffer over the competition.

Checa’s second position came under threat from a fast starting Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin), who’d worked his way past on lap 12 only to fall back into the clutches of the Spaniard on lap 21, and then countryman Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) two laps from the finish. The order saw the MotoGP 500 rookie take his first podium performance – only missing out on the runner up position by four tenths of a second.

All four riders finished around 20 seconds ahead of fifth placed man Alex Barros (Honda) who only just held off a reformed Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) in sixth – the Frenchman actually making a pass for fifth place on the penultimate lap but was unable to make it stick.

Set-up report YZR-M1/YZR500
The tight and twisty nature of the Sachsenring lends itself to close racing, partially due it’s rather short overall length – only just scraping in on the minimum allowed to host a MotoGP race – while the spaghetti layout itself has the reputation of making passes against ones competitors difficult even at the best of times. This was expected to change, to some extent, for 2001 after the German venue underwent its second re-design in as many years. Increasing in length by 275m the new circuit remains unchanged between turn one and the following ten corners, but from this point three straight sections of tarmac complete the Sachsenring via a triangular format. The outcome has seen the 500’s top speed potential increase while two new passing points have presented themselves – the final two left-handers.

Like Donington the Sachsenring is made up of low and high speed sections, although it isn’t as segregated as the English circuit. It means that the bike will need to offer agility and a degree of stability too – a difficult combination. This will only be amplified further for the four-strokes, which, with their heavier FIM weight limit and larger engine mass, will find the tighter section of the circuit more challenging than their two-stroke competition.

But the fours will be compensated by their more predictable power delivery, especially as much of the driving is done on the left side of the tyre at a track that requires the power to be laid down exiting slow, tight, corners with little camber and limited grip. Helping the YZR-M1 further in this regard will be the latest specification rear suspension linkage. The new ratio has been designed to suit the flatter torque characteristics of the inline-four as compared to the initially more savage V-four two-strokes, offering a plusher movement through the first stage of the stroke before progressively increasing in intensity. It will not only increase traction off the turns, allowing the rider to get on the power harder and earlier than before, the new linkage should also reduce the wheelying effects of the 200 plus horsepower M1 under power.

This will be supported with a rear shock set-up that sports a spring rate a little more on the softer side; offering more feel while working the rear tyre less over the bumpy surface. A longer swingarm setting will also provide a similar end result. It is necessary, however, to ensure the swingarm motion is predictable as these setting, combined with the undulating layout and lack of grip, can lead to a pumping action on the rear as the tyre fights for traction – resulting in instability. To prevent this pumping action from becoming an issue the shock’s damping will be dialled in to compensate, while the front forks will be set to provide the all-round balance. This is possible with the limited amount of hard braking that takes place at the Sachsenring – the only point of concern being turn one. For this reason stability under brakes isn’t such a priority.

Since most riders will only use second to fifth gears per lap, and the throttle position is opened fully for less time than at Donington – expect around 10 percent per lap – it’s clear that top-end power is not the main requirement. Rather it’s a predictable bottom-end and midrange that riders will be looking for.