Set-up report Phillip Island Round 15

Setup

Round: 15, Australia
October 20, 2002
Circuit: Phillip Island
Country: Australia
Track length: 4448 m
Opened: 1956
Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 31.984 (Max Biaggi, 2001 - MotoGP) 
MotoGP lap record: 1' 32.743 (Kenny Roberts, 1999)
Last year MotoGP winner: Valentino Rossi
GP250 lap record: 1' 33.556 (Valentino Rossi, 1999)
Last year GP250 winner: Daijiro Katoh
Circuit tel: +61 3 59522710
Circuit web site: http://www.phillipislandcircuit.com.au

2001 race summary
Valentino Rossi (Honda) secured the 2001 MotoGP 500 World Championship after winning what was the most thrilling race of that season, held at Phillip Island, Australia. The 22-year-old Italian claimed his third international title when he crossed the line ahead of a very determined Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) – taking the lead off the Yamaha man, and the championship, in the final few corners. The two rivals led a nine-bike freight train that was separated by only 1.5 seconds with only five laps to run – Rossi, Biaggi, Loris Capirossi (Honda), Alex Barros (Honda), Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3), Noriyuki Haga (Red Bull Yamaha), Tohru Ukawa (Honda), Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) and Sete Gibernau (Suzuki) – the race could have gone to anyone!

Eventually, after all the paint swapping and tyre rubbing action, it was Capirossi who completed the all-Italian rostrum. Early race leader Barros finished fourth ahead of Ukawa and Jacque. Meanwhile Nakano came through from a bad start to take seventh from Haga – the latter riding like a man possessed.

Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin) put in a hard charge, and was right in the thick of the action when he was hit from behind, on lap eight, and was forced off the circuit – he rejoined the fray back in 17th before eventually finishing 13th. Meanwhile Garry McCoy’s weekend came to a premature end when clutch problems on the Red Bull Yamaha forced the local hero to stop with nine laps still to run.

Set-up report YZR-M1/YZR500
The fast flowing nature of Phillip Island is a favourite of many riders, often lending itself to close racing while allowing the rider the rare opportunity to be truly aggressive on those 180 two-strokes and 200-plus horsepower four-strokes they attempt to tame each weekend. With this in mind the set-up of the machines will be targeted towards good acceleration and turning ability, rather than braking stability – a given considering there’s only one hard braking area, Honda Corner. The Island, as it is often referred to, offers a variety of cambers throughout its sweeping layout, both positive and negative. Therefore the key component to success will be the rear suspension unit. It will need to offer a plush enough ride to ensure good predictable traction without pumping through its stroke as the rider tries to drive hard off the side of the tyre, or squatting as the weight transfers onto the rear. The latter would only unload the front of the motorcycle causing it to push wide – affecting exit speed and eventually laptimes. On the other hand a too stiff a rear shock will only lead to the front wheel lofting while the rider powers off each of the slow and medium speed turns.

To achieve all that is needed of the rear shock it must sport a slightly softer spring rate, to aid feel, with a reasonable amount of preload to prevent rear-end squat. As for the damping, it will be dialled in to help balance out the package over some of the finer bumps, located in some of the high-speed sweepers. The front forks will mimic the rear set-up to ensure an overall balanced geometry. Too hard and the front will become vague in its feedback, and at these high speeds and lean angles this can be detrimental. Too soft and the basic feel will be too loose to be efficient. This has been the basic approach of the YZR-M1 technical team over the past few races, and with the experience gained this could prove quite beneficial at the Island, where rider confidence counts for so much.

As is often the case, when drive is important, some Yamaha riders may opt for a longer swingarm to offer predictability and stability under power, while reducing the likelihood of the bike wheelstanding. It may also provide another opportunity for the Marlboro Yamaha Team to test the latest rear swingarm offering for the YZR-M1.

Power is tuned more towards offering a stronger midrange to top-end with acceleration the key to a fast laptime, especially off the final fast turn where momentum can make the difference between winning and losing. This is where the four-strokes will have the greatest advantage. With this in mind Nakano and Jacque will be thankful that they’ve come to Australia M1 mounted, as will Abe who makes his four-stroke debut this weekend – the fifth Yamaha rider to do so.

Tyre choice is also crucial here, but also difficult to get right. With the temperamental weather the track temperatures can vary greatly and in turn so can the ideal tyre choice. Tyre technicians also need to take into consideration the long periods that are spent driving hard off the left side of the tyre – which is why the 16.5inch slick is the only choice. The challenge is to offer the grip and longevity on the left side, dealing with the massive heat build up, while also generating heat and grip on the less used right side.