Set-up report Malaysia Round 14

Setup

Round: 14, Malaysian MotoGP
October 13, 2002
Circuit: Sepang
Country: Malaysia
Track length: 5548 m
Opened: 1999
Fastest Lap Ever: 2' 5.637 (Loris Capirossi, 2001 - MotoGP)
MotoGP lap record: 2' 6.618 (Valentino Rossi, 2001)
Last year MotoGP winner: Valentino Rossi
GP250 lap record: 2' 8.920 (Daijiro Katoh, 2001)
Last year GP250 winner: Daijiro Katoh
Circuit tel: +60 3 85262000
Circuit web site: http://www.malaysiangp.com.my

2001 race summary
Red Bull Yamaha WCM rider Garry McCoy came through from as far back as eighth, after an average start off the front row, to finish on the podium at the penultimate race of the 2001 MotoGP 500 World Championship, held in Sepang Malaysia. The Australian’s speedway antics kept the crowd entertained during the duration of the 21-lap race. He took the lead on lap three from Kenny Roberts (Suzuki), only one lap after doing the double on Valentino Rossi (Honda) and Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team), before eventually finishing third.

Loris Capirossi (Honda) followed the Red Bull Yamaha through, and before the completion of the lap the Italian had taken control of the race. On lap six McCoy was back at the helm and didn’t relinquish the number one spot until the pace took its toll. With the number five Yamaha’s tyres past their best McCoy was unable to meet Rossi’s challenge, and the newly crowned world champion went on to take the win by 3.551 seconds ahead of Capirossi.

Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) put up a good fight to challenge for the podium; the MotoGP 500 rookie making one attempt after another to pass McCoy, including two on the final lap, only to finish two tenths of a second behind in fourth.

Max Biaggi’s hopes of securing second place in the 2001 points standings came to an abrupt end when the Marlboro Yamaha Team rider underestimated the space between Roberts’ Suzuki and the inside of the first-gear left-hand hairpin – both riders crashing out of contention.

Set-up report YZR-M1/YZR500
Because of its hairpins, and numerous hard braking areas, a fast lap and any hope of making a pass at the Sepang circuit comes down to braking stability and the bike’s turn-in characteristics. Two such areas include the two long straights and hairpins that make up the final sequence of the 5542m layout. The task is made a little easier for the suspension technicians with the track surface boasting a high level of grip and few bumps, but it is a venue that also offers challenging high-speed sweepers – the first, diving down deep into a hollow before climbing back out the other side for a 90 degree righthander. This has a tendency to load up the front of the bike to the extreme. The other is a blind lefthander that disappears over an undulating crest, which ensures that keeping the back-end in line will be more challenging than it appears on screen.

It means that the chassis’ balance will be compromised, to a degree, to ensure that the key areas of concern are catered for – such as the braking stability and chassis agility. To help cater for both, the centre of gravity will be moved slightly to offer better feel from the front-end as the rider dives into the turn – increasing confidence and therefore the rider’s speed. While, the suspension balance will offer braking stability by rising the front and lowering the rear. The front fork springs will be slightly firmer, achieved with a higher spring rate, with the bike’s attitude controlled by the spring preload. As for the rear shock, it will also carry a high spring rate, but it will still be plush enough to offer the feel needed to get the power down hard and predictably in conditions that can melt a rear tyre in a matter of laps.

Both Checa and Biaggi will head to Malaysia with chassis combination used at the Motegi MotoGP the week before. The Spaniard has opted for two of the latest specification, while Biaggi will fight for his number two spot in the championship with one new unit and his preferred chassis. The latter is identical; chassis wise, to the two YZR-M1s the Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 riders Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano will use to make their four-stroke debuts. And, time permitting, Checa and Biaggi may also test the latest rear swingarm offering initially pencilled in to make its debut in Japan.

Being four-stroke mounted will prove to be a big advantage for the Tech 3 pair with the high humidity the biggest concern for the 500s – typical in this region during the month of October. This circuit requires a good, consistent and strong low to midrange power delivery, but the high humidity can actually deprive the two-strokes of around five percent of their full horsepower potential. The high air temperatures, which can cause the engine to run around 10-degrees Celsius hotter than normal, amplify this again robbing the bike of power.