Canadians at AMA Road Atlanta

The much hyped start of the AMA Triumph Big Kahuna Triple Crown is happening this weekend at Road Atlanta.  Not to be overshadowed by Brett McCormick's efforts this weekend in Europe are fellow Canucks Darren James and Ben Young competing in Atlanta.  James took the Ruthless Racing Inc. Harley-Davidson XR1200 to a tenth place qualifier in the Vance & Hines XR1200 class, while Ben Young took the BYR/Fogi Racing Yamaha R6 to an 18th place finish in the first of two races in the Daytona SportBike class after qualifying 18th as well.

Saturday, 21 April 2012 18:07

McCormick To Start 13th on Sunday!

Brett McCormick will start from 13th on the grid, the pole spot on row four, for tomorrow’s pair of races in round three of the eni Superbike World Championship at the TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands. The Saskatoon-born rider was as high as eighth on the rankings early in SuperPole action, but a change in conditions caught the Effenbert Liberty Racing Team crew by surprise and they didn’t get McCormick out in time to benefit from a soft rear tire near the end of the opening session.

Saturday, 21 April 2012 11:31

McCormick Falls, But Makes Assen SuperPole

Saturday morning's second and final qualifying round of the eni Superbike World Championship race at Assen was a good news/bad news outing for reigning Canadian Superbike champ Brett McCormick of Saskatchewan.

The good news is that thanks to a strong performance yesterday afternoon during the few dry minutes of qualifying, McCormick has made it into SuperPole this afternoon aboard the Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati 1098R – a terrific achievement in just his second career World Superbike outing.

Saturday, 21 April 2012 06:52

Make Every Centimetre Count

This picture of Casey Stoner at last year's Spanish Grand Prix at Catalunya shows the Australian using every possible centimetre of the track mid-corner. It illustrates, quite graphically, the importance of riding as closely as possible to the apex in each turn. Other pictures show Stoner even riding right over the curb at the apex of some corners. Keeping such a tight apex in a corner shortens the overall distance, even if only by a small amount, and in turn saves time that can add up to a significant amount over the course of a lap. To a certain extent, missing an apex and taking a wider radius around a corner is not that critical, because you can carry more speed on that bigger radius. That extra speed, however, cannot be enough to offset the extra distance travelled unless lateral acceleration (and lean angle) also increases.

A look at the relationships between speed, time, distance and lateral acceleration shows that this is especially important in slower corners. Turn 5B at Mosport—now Canadian Tire Motorsport Park—has a radius of approximately 10 metres and covers a 90-degree arc. Miss your apex by just one metre here and the extra distance will cost you close to a tenth of a second, even if you increase your speed accordingly. Because speeds are higher in faster corners, the time lost is not as great. But there is another aspect to consider: Miss an apex in any turn, and you are essentially extending the straights before and after the corner. For example, in a 180-degree turn such as the turn 4 carousel at Shannonville, if you are one metre wide at the apex of the turn you are adding two metres in distance travelled—one on the preceding straight and one on the succeeding straight. You can't offset that distance no matter how much additional speed you can carry in the corner; it is simply extra distance that must be made up.

The reality is that most trackday riders and many racers don't use that last metre of pavement at the apex. And when they do use those wide lines, they don't increase their corner speed accordingly. This ends up making the fast corners as critical as the slow turns. Obviously, the absolute shortest distance around the track is not the quickest, but it's important to not add any unnecessary distance. It may sound trifling to be worrying about a metre here and there, but it adds up over a full lap. With GPS-based data acquisition, it's possible to measure accurately the actual distance a rider travels on a lap of the track, and the results can be quite surprising. Even with expert-level riders, I have seen variances up to 15 metres from lap to lap on a typical track, which translates to as much as half a second. Races are won and lost on much less than that.

Another benefit of monitoring distance around the track is that it gives a measure of consistency. When I worked with WERA racer Javelin Broderick last summer, I had him think about distance and making his apexes each lap for an entire track day. Over the course of the day, his variance in distance from lap to lap dropped from 20 metres in the first session to just three metres in the last session of the day, a significant reduction. Lap times likewise came down and became more consistent.

Casey Stoner and other MotoGP riders are obviously working hard to minimize unnecessary distance around the track to save every last tenth of a second in lap time, but even club racers and trackday riders can realize significant benefits from some attention in this area.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012 21:36

Remembering the First World Superbike Race – Part Three

It’s hard to imagine now, but 25 years ago the World Superbike series staged its first ever event at Donington Park in the UK Midlands as part of a busy April long weekend of racing. The crazy busy program included Eurolantic (formerly Match Races) Challenge events at Brands Hatch, just south of London. The series then moved on to Donington, where the Sunday Superbike races would be followed by the completion of the Eurolantic Series on the Easter Monday bank holiday.

SBK technical inspection prior to on-track activity at Donington made it clear that there was a set of rules as specified by the FIM, and the British ACU organizers were going to apply the standards, as you would expect for a World Championship round.

This was something of a problem for the North American contingent, since “our” bikes differed from the new World standard in two main areas:  displacement and carburetors.  Most American and Canadian racers over-bored to pick up a little engine size, usually around 20cc's, but the FIM Rulebook required stock displacement.  Carbs were required to match those provided on the homologated road machine, and again most North Americans had aftermarket racing carbs from Mikuni.

Paddock gossip at Donington suggested that some allowances could be made for the North Americans, but in the end the rules stood as printed, no exceptions – back room dealings didn’t cloud these results.

American Honda did not officially support the activities of Bubba Shobert at the event, but there was no doubt the flat track ace turned road racer had something to prove in his first real England outing. The year before, Shobert had travelled to the UK for the Easter series, but broke his wrist in a crash while practicing for the Brands Hatch opener.  In his much-anticipated 1988 UK race debut, Shobert wanted to feature.

Previously, Fred Merkel, Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey had used the Match Races as a springboard to the GP scene, and Shobert planned to take the same route—hence his decision to take advantage of the Eurolantic Challenge start money offering as a boost for the first-ever World Superbike event.

While several of the national distributor teams entered the brand new and trick Honda RC30 at Donington, Shobert was on the ultra well-developed VFR, an earlier version of Honda’s potent v-four platform.  Shobert’s bike was in fact ex-Rainey, probably the most aggressively developed machine at the track, and that included some very trick non-homologated unobtanium carbs—or at least that was the rumor in the paddock.

Of course, tuners will tell you that you can always have one item installed to pass through tech and then substitute the preferred part prior to taking to the track.  The problem is, if you do well, you will have to attend a post-race inspection too—right after impound—with little chance to swap out parts.

At Yoshimura-Suzuki, the beautiful AMA series GSX-R750s of Doug Polen and Scott Gray featured lots of trick mods, and their bigger displacement and aftermarket carbs meant that an entry for Sunday’s pair of Superbike races was out of the question.  The stars of the Daytona 200 a month earlier would be spectators for the World Superbike opener, then rejoin the action on Monday for the completion of the Match Races.

Shobert, on the other hand, wanted to race on Sunday, and did.  However his VFR was delayed after the warm-up lap, and missed the start due to some kind of vapor lock or similar problem.  From there, Shobert charged through the pack, setting the fastest lap of the weekend, but not figuring in the results.

To this day, some argue his delay was real, while most view Shobert’s start-line difficulties as a way to show his pace without having to undergo scrutineering. 

It’s also interesting to note that the Donington opener was scored on aggregate, similar to Motocross GPs of the day, with the two race results combined to offer one overall standing.  This meant that you needed to do well in both rounds, and Shobert was out of it before things really got going.  For the next set of races, round two at the Hungaroring, and every World Superbike event since, the result of each race stands separately, every race scoring series points.

And what of the two Texas-based AMA stars?  Polen edged Shobert for the unofficial title of top individual scorer for the Eurolantic Challenge, with four wins to Shobert’s two.  No one else won a race, but the depth of the U.K. team meant they earned the team title for the home squad.  The Brits finished with a total of 586 points, the injury-depleted Americans next at 570.  The Euro crew, most of whom didn’t both to race on Monday following SBK One at Donington, were third at 287 points, and UK Two was the the last place team at 281.

Thursday, 12 April 2012 19:47

Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada Set to Welcome the Riding Season at Port Dover for PD13

CONCORD, Ontario - Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada looks forward to welcoming all motorcycle enthusiasts with complimentary hot coffee at the long-established PD13 event in Port Dover, Ontario on Friday, April 13th.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012 18:00

Kennedy Motorsports to Supply Pirelli Tires at Shannonville RACE Superseries

TORONTO, ON- Orion Motorsports, Pirelli racing distributor for Canada and Eastern United States, is pleased to announce that Kennedy Motorsports has been named the Pirelli service provider for all Shannonville RACE events. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012 17:33

CSBK Announces Complimentary Test Day

TORONTO, ON - Frontline CSBK Inc. will hold a complimentary test day for all 2012 CSBK membership holders.

Monday, 09 April 2012 09:58

Analyzing GPS data - lateral and longitudinal acceleration

In the current issue of the magazine and in my last blog, I talk about GPS-based data acquisition systems and touch on some of the GPS channels available. As a tool to improve your riding, the accurate position data and segment times available from a GPS-based system are the most useful information, but the lateral and longitudinal acceleration channels are also very helpful. Longitudinal acceleration refers to acceleration in a straight line, with a positive value to indicate what we normally call acceleration and a negative value for braking. Lateral acceleration is an effective measure of cornering performance and what automotive people test on a skidpad.

One common misconception that many riders have is that "faster" is better, and that speed is the most important variable. But in reality, on the racetrack we are trying to minimize the lap time; more speed does not always equate to less time. For example, you can go faster in a given corner by taking a wider line, but because you are going further it may actually take you longer to complete the same arc. Lateral and longitudinal acceleration data is irrespective of speed or distance, and gives a much more accurate representation of performance than does speed alone. In general, more lateral acceleration through a given corner or more longitudinal acceleration on a straight corresponds to quicker lap times.

There are limits to lateral and longitudinal acceleration based on physics, the motorcycle and the tires used, but mostly it comes down to tires and traction. For example, most motorcycles are capable of braking at just over 1 G of longitudinal acceleration, limited partly by the rear tire coming off the ground but also the front tire locking up. Acceleration in a straight line is limited by the engine's performance, but - again - also by the rear tire's traction. And lateral acceleration is determined almost completely by the tires. How close a rider gets to these maximum values is one indication of effort and skill, and is easily seen in the raw lateral and longitudinal acceleration data.

For experienced riders that can regularly reach those limits of lateral and longitudinal acceleration, the next aspect to consider is how quickly the rider can get to, and stay at, those limits. Expert-level riders can get to maximum braking of 1 G at the end of a straight in about 1 second, and hold that level of braking through the entire braking zone. Likewise, expert-level riders quickly and smoothly transition the motorcycle to maximum lean (and maximum lateral acceleration) and hold that value all the way through the corner. Manipulation of the raw GPS data helps here; math channels can show braking G or cornering G separately, and a derivative channel will show the rate of change.

Another measure of riding skill is how well the rider combines lateral and longitudinal acceleration by trail braking into a corner or accelerating out of a corner while leaned over. This can be shown graphically in several ways, but the most interesting method is to use an X-Y plot of the two acceleration channels. This plot, commonly referred to as a G-G plot, effectively shows the traction circle and how close the rider is to utilizing the maximum available traction (shown by acceleration) at any given time. Some data acquisition software allows you to create such graphs; with others you may have to export the data to Excel and make your own.

The G-G plot shown here displays data from an entire practice session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Classic Course, with Javelin Broderick aboard his Yamaha YZF-R6. You can quickly and easily see how hard Javelin is braking and cornering, as well as how much trail-braking he uses and how much acceleration while leaned over. Any points outside the general cluster of the graph require further investigation from both safety and performance aspects. This is just one way to combine and display the lateral and longitudinal acceleration data, but is generally considered the best for showing the most information in a simple format.

Thursday, 05 April 2012 16:32

Another strong showing, another 16th place finish for McCormick

20-year-old Brett McCormick of Saskatoon, SK earned his second straight 16thplace finish in race two of his debut outing in the 2012 Eni Superbike World Championship at Imola, Italy, April 1.  Aboard the Effenbert Liberty Racing Ducati 1098R, McCormick backed up his result from the opening race of the day in round two of the SBK Series at the famed Italian venue.

Sunday, 01 April 2012 11:56

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