SPANISH TESTING WAS A VALUABLE LONG HAUL
Last year our test schedule had provided useful set up and track experience to get the new R1 experience underway. This year with a brand new GSXR 1000 to test it was again an essential excursion for us to get some almost guaranteed laps in the sunny climes of Southern Spain. The weather in Britain justified our approach as, while we at times sweltered in full sunny days, the UK experienced cold and wet periods as only the UK can in Feb/March.
The first period of testing at Cartagena was in association with Team Army and it was great to meet up with old racing friends from the past three years. With some coaching along the way and support where we could, these three initial days were busy and productive.
Our first task was to run the GSXR in. With stock oil onboard and a completely different feel for the rider, having a relaxed ‘feel your way into’ approach suited both bike and initial set up. With Maxton suspension installed again we knew we could tune the bike with confidence. it wasn’t long before the initial base set up was usefully adjusted but the problem of a too high seat unit became an issue. The choice of the CRC version as part of a whole fairing set hadn’t been recognised as problematic but Sam soon noted its high over-the-handle bar position.
In these situations, without a workshop and some deft cutting and glass fibre work, it was difficult to make the necessary adjustments work. Electing to wait for the break between tests, #31 soldiered on and made the most of the sessions available. Initial feel was of a punchy throttle response but less invasive wheely effect. Times weren’t great at first due to our 90% limit but with further adjustments to suspension we began to make progress as we softened off both front and rear settings to gain further grip and feel.
“ I knew we had time to dial in the feel of the bike and my first issue was how high I sat over the tank. Getting used to the GSXR from the R1, which I seemed to suit almost straight away, was going to take time. Without the experience necessary, it takes many sessions to ensure we are working the bike safely and for performance. I wouldn’t say I gelled straight away due to the seat position being 30mm too high but we got enough laps to get the ball rolling”
After the initial test at Cartagena Sam flew home leaving mechanic Dad to tackle the seat issue, service the bike and prep for Cartagena 2 - the pro test for BSB Stock 1000 riders. A visit to Justin Weale in Elche at his motomecanica workshop provided useful answers. A customer had partially broken a Carbon King seat unit and once purchased it was soon repaired, resprayed and mounted successfully on a new alloy support bolted onto the rear subframe. This resulted in a 30mm lower seat than the CRC version and with a tank extension fitted, the rider would now be more planted into the bike.
The second test at Cartagena got off to a good start with the better riding position achieved. Times came down and with spring changes front and rear, further tweaks on suspension settings, we began to move forwards. Cartagena track was not providing a great deal of grip probably due to the dust there and so we focused on the rear which had also developed a pulsing on full throttle and a breaking edge holding up proceedings. By the second morning we had dropped the rear spring rate down to a 9.5 and immediately things felt better and after lunch pace increased overall.
As session four got underway and on the second lap, Sam approached the downhill entry hairpin at full pace, hitting his braking mark normally, but up ahead a Novice Racer was dragging himself into the sharp left corner with gear selection issues. With a fast approaching bike behind, less able to judge this increased closing speed, the distance between soon became zero. On full brakes, rear wheel in the air, Sam was unable to pull the GSXR up in time. Attempting to go behind the almost stationary bike resulted in clipping its rear wheel and catapulting Sam into the gravel followed by the bike.
This collision resulted in a trip to the local hospital due to Sam’s concussion but thankfully no broken bones. The option to ride the next and final day was assessed and after a full morning of patching up the bike and borrowing spares from other teams and riders we were able to fashion a few useful laps together to test the bikes general rideability.
Once the team had flown home again it was another few days at JW’s for mechanic Dad to check the bike over, order spares from the UK and tidy it up again ready for test 3 at Valencia in a weeks time. After checking the bike over the forks were straight, wheels buckled (very), throttle crushed and bodywork requiring several hours of TLC. Once sorted our focus for Valencia became getting back on track, testing the electronics further through changes to engine braking and throttle response and finding a useful set up for the first test at Silverstone on April 9th.
Valencia is vastly different to Cartagena. Better surface, smooth and flowing. Set up required is completely different as we found out. Front end needed less support and was softened off from 10.5 to 9.5 springs and the rear needed bolstering from 9.5 to 10.5, complete reversal. Added rear support enabled harder and more controlled full gas without the pulsing felt at first tests. Front end still had an inherent chatter vibration which may be crash related. Riding through this Sam eventually PB’d taking off a full half second with further practice on the new set up offering more improvement. All of this after that heavy crash!
Having tried different electronic maps it was also possible to find better drive on the throttle and have one selected for use at Silverstone. All in all we learned a great deal with the bike now needing a full chassis check including forks, wheels and yokes. The vibration needs to be eradicated fully and early indications are it may well be in the yokes and bearings or fork internals.
More info to come over next few days as we get to the bottom of our mysterious vibe!
Sam Cox Racing
#31 Stock 1000
2019 SEASON STARTS BRRRRAUP !
At last, following a successful meeting with our main sponsor Echelon Consultancy in December we have pulled together an exciting plan for the 2019 Stock 1000 season.
With Echelon backing we have already moved to purchase and develop a Stock 1000 ride with a brand new Suzuki GSXR 1000 from Crescent Motorcycles in Verwood, Dorset. This has already arrived at the Road & Race performance workshop nearby, ready for the strip and rebuild.
Alan Cook and Simon Green (R&R) will this week begin the build which should take no more than 4 days, so hopefully we will have something to show in the next week or so. Selected performance parts to build the bike to Stock 1000 spec are:
Yoshimura ECU and Loom
Yoshimura Exhaust system
GBR Race protection
Brembo HPK Race discs and pads
Ohlins steering damper
2D Data Logging
Decisions about which 1000cc bike have dominated our thinking since the middle of last season. With budget in mind and concerns about costs involved in running a BMW or Aprilia (both good performers) the main choices became the Suzuki, ZX10 or remain with the current Yamaha R1. The ZX10 has a great reputation but access to the 2019 spec bike was not guaranteed in time and unfortunately the purchase of the older model with inherent set up issues (upon advice) to deal with set this option back.
The already tested 2016 R1 was a promising choice as an entry option to the Stock 1000 series. With a friendly electronics package - easily operated - it had an overall attraction for us last year even considering known braking and wheelying issues. However, without breaking the class rules, ensuring the R1 delivered an even better performance proved difficult in 2018. Braking became troublesome in hot conditions, wheelying a constant thorn to full throttle operation. And then there was the engine failure! The new R1 might have resolved some of these issues but with so much on the new R1 having to be stripped off before track use it hardly makes sense with the 16K price tag.
Suzuki offers an attractive race scheme providing a register able bike and discounted parts. This deal amounts to a saving of over 30% off RRP to any BSB Race team. To start the season with a brand new machine, added to top spec bolt on race parts is an obvious draw and it is this option that has won our minds. Last years Stock 1000 results show that the GSXR, in the right hands, is a competitive bike and always featured in top 5 if not pole or podium positions. This can only get better after its first season of competition.
Our pre testing period has also been confirmed with the following dates in Spain and the UK:
Cartagena 28th Feb – 2nd March
Cartagena 8th – 10th March
Valencia 19th – 21st March
Silverstone 9th March
10 days of testing seems a lot but with the potential interruptions for weather and ongoing issues (always worth considering in motorcycle racing!) this may only be enough if it all proceeds smoothly.
Last season we suffered too many mechanical problems as well as braking and geometry issues. This year our Paddock team will develop a greater stringency in checking and examining components in a far more detailed and analytical way. Of the stoppages last season over half of them could have been avoided with better performance of components and earlier identification of impending failure. Having learned from these mistakes we hope to give Sam the best chance on the best ride we can reasonably afford.
Our knowledge of suspension set up has grown immeasurably since we knew very little in 2006! With the very tunable Maxton kit onboard last year we made great progress in getting the bike working earlier in each round, solving issues throughout P1 and 2. With greater inherent geometrical stability in the Suzuki chassis (it has an appreciably longer wheelbase than the Yamaha) we already start in a better position than the beginning of 2018.
Sam is also more sensitive to suspension changes and their affect on the feel characteristics of the bike. His own feedback has developed and he is more confident in asking for dramatic adjustments during sessions. This quality of input, matched with technical support from Richard Adams at Maxton will be a key asset in tuning for better pace.
One fantastic step forward for Sam and the team is the highly prized addition of a BSB rider mentor. Without naming names now (but soon) Sam will benefit in 2019 from the advice of a seasoned and experienced professional racer – one of the nicest guys in the paddock too!
Watch this space for more season start up news!
Sam Cox Racing