Hello world I’ve decided to come up for air. Sincere apologies to our dearest editor but with a busy schedule and small boys at home I know he can sympathise with me when one day leads into the next month.
Apart from kids on school holidays life in the R1 WSBK world has been taking everything I’ve got to give. My third son Alex Lowes has been getting plenty of my time too. Finally though after a ridiculous summer WSBK break of nine weeks we are heading back to the racetrack next weekend for round 10 of the Championship in Portugal.
We tested there two weeks ago and to be honest we struggled for pace in the August mid-summer heat where track temperatures soared to 55 degrees.
That coupled with both our boys fresh from another Suzuka 8 Hour win on a less powerful endurance spec bike on bloody Bridgestone tyres. I don’t mean that in a bad way in terms of product but for one hour in the heat at Suzuka they can lap on lap record pace without any drop in grip at all.
The biggest strength of the Bridgestone tyres is the front tyre that allows riders to get away with anything and any sort of lean angle mid turn. The more you load it and force it the better it works.
The Pirelli needs to be stopped much more and being a less stiff tyre loading it on the edge doesn’t really suit it. Let’s just say we had a few bikes come back to the garage during the test on the back of the circuit truck.
Hopefully it is all out of his system now and we are fully familiar with the Pirelli front tyre again.
Pirelli are making huge gains with their rear tyres and we are in a phase of sizing and profiles changing. Our last race at Misano in July we had the new bigger front for the first time which is very promising but requires a totally different setup from the motorcycle so it is still very much a work in progress.
Winding back a few months and Alex won his first World Superbike race in the Czech Republic at the circuit Brno. Having his teammate do the double at Alex’s home race in Donington was a bitter pill to swallow and to bounce straight back at the next race showed the class the boy has. It also gave me my first win as a crew chief. As they say first of many let’s make it.
That means the total of wins this year for the R1 is three which has really given everyone in the project a real boost and injection of motivation because it’s been a three-year project that is finally starting to bear fruit.
I’m enjoying more and more my role as Crew Chief in an official team and learning plenty on the technical side although I’m also learning very quickly that a qualification in psychology and human behavior wouldn’t be a bad thing. Maybe time to get the books out again in the off-season and sign up to some external study.
I got myself over to Brands Hatch to catch a BSB race and see how the O’Show was coming on after he smashed his ankle in his brief WSBK outing in Imola and to be honest he is still far from 100 per cent. The footpeg went through his boot and into his leg smashing the bone.
They screwed it all back together mechanically pretty easily but the soft tissue and ligament damage was extreme and three months later the wound is still open. Having just spoken to him yesterday he reckons he will be about 90 per cent this weekend at Silverstone and ready dish out some payback to Brookesy who has put some hard passes on him recently.
Getting back to the Brands weekend, it was great to catch up with Bryan Starring who was doing a guest spot for the WD40 Kawasaki team on their Stock 1000 bike. He made solid progress after trying plenty with setup and finished solidly in the top 10 from well back on the grid.
I’ve have spent some days at Yamaha Racing in Italy near Milan this week and things look ready for a good weekend in Portugal. We had some really positive new chassis parts at the test that we can use for the race and some updates on the electronics side, which should also help us refine our package each weekend from circuit to circuit.
JR [Jonathan Rea] remains the reference and is within a short grasp a locking away title number four. Nobody has been able to consistently stand up and mount a challenge this year to him, so he is basically running away with it unchallenged.
I would like to think we might be able to stand on the stop at least one more time this year to go into the off season with some momentum.
I promise my next update will be sooner this time.
– Andrew Pitt