Set-up report Valencia Round 16

Setup

Round: 16, Valencia MotoGP
November 3, 2002
Circuit: Valencia
Country: Spain
Track length: 4005 m
Opened: 1999

Fastest Lap Ever: 1' 34.496 (Max Biaggi, 2001 - MotoGP) 
MotoGP lap record: 1' 36.085 (Alex Crivillé, 2000)
Last year MotoGP winner: Sete Gibernau
GP250 lap record: 1' 36.398 (Shinya Nakano, 2000)
Last year GP250 winner: Daijiro Katoh
Circuit tel: +34 96 2525220
Circuit web site: http://www.circuitvalencia.com

2001 race summary
Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team) produced a gutsy ride during the 2001 Valencia MotoGP; starting the wet 30-lap race from pit lane before sliding his way through the field to finish fourth. With rain falling prior to the start of the 500cc race, followed by sunshine, tyre choice was always going to be a gamble. With most riders opting for intermediates, slicks – or a combination of an intermediate front and slick rear – the 22-bike field headed out on its warm-up lap.

Loris Capirossi (Honda) only managed to get to turn four before sliding off the track, remounting to make it onto the grid just before the start. Checa was another to fall victim to the slippery conditions. But he was not so fortunate and was forced into the pits to change onto his slick shod number two machine – as a result he started the race from pit lane.

It was the bruised Capirossi who led the charge into turn one, although the Italian never made it out the other side, crashing for the second time in as many laps. This left Valentino Rossi (Honda) to pick up the pieces and take the race lead ahead of Alex Barros (Honda), Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) and polesitter Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team). Haruchika Aoki (Honda) was the next to fall – also on the first lap – and yet still the falls continued when fourth placed José Luis Cardoso (Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin) and fifth placed Noriyuki Haga (Red Bull Yamaha WCM) simultaneously highsided, while exiting the tight left-hander side-by-side.

Once the race finally settled it was Checa who was on the move, reeling in the leading trio of Sete Gibernau (Suzuki), Alex Barros (Honda) and Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) – the three eventually finishing in that order. By lap five Checa was already seventh and closing fast, but the initial deficit was just too great and the Spaniard had to be content with fourth. He was followed by fifth placed Olivier Jacque and Tech 3 teammate Nakano (seventh).

Set-up report YZR-M1/YZR500
Valencia is a circuit with good positive camber and an abrasive surface, but it’s a combination of the slightly undulating layout, stop ‘n’ go corners, bumps and a tight and twisty design that lends a hand to most front-end crashes. For this reason riders will be chasing confidence in this key area, followed by stability under brakes and then the agility to deal with a circuit that technically suits the nimbler 250s better than the 500s - only amplified further with the heavier four-strokes.

To achieve the front-end feedback the Yamaha’s will sport a geometry that will see the front raised slightly, compared to what is run at most other circuits, and the rear lowered. Combined with the right front spring rates and preload, all controlled by the rebound, this will allow for stability under brakes and a solid front-end through the transition as the rider trail brakes into the turn. With the forks set to use their full stroke the agility of the bike isn’t compromised to too great an extent.

A common mistake is to focus too much on agility by loading up the front with a more aggressive geometry. Experience has shown that this only leads to a loss of front-end feel and eventually confidence. With a more stable bike the rider is able to be more assertive and is therefore more likely to produce a faster lap time. With the YZR-M1 much of this front-end feel will be sought through the bike’s rear suspension unit – aided by the data obtained during a somewhat difficult Australian MotoGP, held two weeks earlier. The movement of the rear shock will be tuned to offer a more linear action, and it will be dialled in to deal with the higher loads produced by such a powerful bike driving off such well cambered slow-speed corners. This will also help reduce the likelihood of the bike trying to wheelie off the turns.

To ensure this is possible, without the rider struggling to hold a racing line the rear suspension preload will be set to prevent an excessive amount of rear-end squat, while still offering a plush enough ride to provide good, consistent traction. Even so this will only be a compromise for the fast penultimate corner. It is, therefore, necessary to take this into account when setting up the rear suspension characteristics of the bike.

Since acceleration is a key factor Yamaha will target the engine performance of both the four-stroke, and especially the two-strokes 500, towards throttle linearity and good low to mid range. This will be more essential to a fast lap time than outright top speed, but even so over-rev must be factored into the equation.