McAMS Yamaha riders Michael Laverty and James Ellison departed the Cartagena test happy with the R1 after hundreds laps in the Spanish sun but at Donington in two weeks’ time, the bike will have changed again as a new factory swingarm, associated linkages plus a race fuel tank will move it on another couple of degrees.
The pair shocked their rivals in Spain, setting incredible laptimes on the opening day of action with moving towards the outright lap record and then going under it on day three while Laverty concentrated on eliminating chatter and also working on race distance settings.
At Donington, the two will bolt in the works swingarm and links which are designed to help with grip at the end of race distance.
“We are going to have quite a revised bike for the Donington test. We will have the underslung factory swingarm that Alex Lowes and Michael Van Der Mark are using in WorldSBK. From what I understand it doesn’t change the bike hugely but it is supposed to be an improvement,” Laverty told BSN this morning.
“With a swingarm come more linkages and different shock length so the back end of the bike will be quite different and with that come different numbers. To the naked eye, it looks totally different, on track it will give more flex and mid-corner grip which Alex says is good for tyre life at the end of a race.
“We’ve also got the new fuel tank which I used for half a day at Cartagena. It is surprising how much that changed things. I had to completely change my riding position as the tank put my bodyweight quite a long way back so we had to move footrests and handlebars in order to get comfy again.
“It was something we thought we would bolt straight on but when you move 65kg back a couple of centimetres, it changes how the bike reacts. So, it will be a different motorbike but one with more information because it translates chassis-wise to what the WorldSBK team have so that means we can use their settings to replicate what they have.
“We know pretty much what we are doing with the engine and electronics, which is a massive part as having a useable engine is so important in BSB now. The team have done a great job with that, so now it’s just getting those chassis components into the jigsaw.
“We have a good bike that can do good race runs, so myself and James want to get a good base setting that we don’t have to change much from FP1 so we’re close to how we will race and spend the weekend on tyre life and fine tuning. I spent a lot of time trying to eliminate chatter, which we have nearly done, and my crew chief PJ sent me the list of all the things we tried and it is surprising how many changes and things we got through. In the last run on the final day before the rain appeared, I was able to maintain a really good pace when the tyre goes off so that is a big positive and will be a big strength for us on the SC0.
Laverty is happy to be back on a Yamaha but says he needs to change his riding style again to make the most of the corner speed advantage the R1 has. Team-mate Ellison has adapted fast and the Irishman has identified a couple of areas that he needs to work on.
“I learned a lot at Calafat and Cartagena. We now know what it likes and what it doesn’t. The strengths are definitely the chassis and how it likes to turn through the middle of a corner and we learned how to use that to our advantage not only when you are in front but also in a fight.
“It could be tougher when you are in traffic, racing with the Kawasakis and BMWs that stop and go in corners a little more but you can make the Yamaha work in that way, the engine has enough torque to do that and we’re trying to find the best of both arenas. It’s not an easy thing but we have the option for two engine maps in BSB so we can have one that is punchy and one that is more flowing.
“As we saw with Josh Brookes in 2015, the bike works great when you are out front and by yourself, using wide, flowing lines. By default, I have been staying more upright and riding like I have had to over the past couple of years whereas James reverted quickly to big, flowing lines and using the bike more on the side of the tyre. It is two different ways of doing it but somewhere in the middle is the best solution.
“I am still a little bit too slow at the apex and getting on to the fat part of the tyre. The engine’s firing order allows you to get on to the throttle a bit harder while on the side of the tyre so I need to start picking the gas up earlier to find those extra couple of tenths on a new tyre.”