Often in racing or any sport for that matter, there are things that just don’t go to plan. While our return to the ABSK paddock with rookie Tim Large had a few of these moments, the overall outcome was probably a true reflection of where we are currently at.
Here are 5 key points from our weekend.
1. How did Largey find his extra pace?
After missing the important test prior to the round, Tim started the weekend extremely strong, smashing 1.8secs off his previous PB at Winton to clock an impressive 1.24.7 sec lap on his Yamaha YZF-R6. More impressive was the fact that Winton is not a track that Tim has done heaps of laps around and he is only in his 2nd full season of road racing.
We have been working lately on Tim’s corner entry speed and line choice, this remained our focus heading into Friday. We have also been working hard on consistency and extracting the best for the available tyre grip. The thing about running new tyres is often the rider cannot extract the maximum grip in the first couple of laps when the tyre is at it’s peak. This is because it does take a few laps for any rider to get right on the limit of grip. This is exactly why we see times drop so much in the 2nd run of a MotoGP qualifying session when a new tyre is fitted. The rider is already up to speed thus when the fresh bag is fitted the rider has a better chance of extracting all of it’s potential.
So, in simple terms this was our Friday strategy, to push Largey very hard in the key areas we were working on and do it all on used rubber. Then once we were confident that he was riding at his peak, pit him mid-session for a new tyre. We did this in FP3 and it instantly worked with Tim dropping is the 1.24s. This strategy is a great way to help up and coming riders find the extra pace they need. However, timing is everything, knowing when to do this is the key and a skill. Doing it at the wrong time just results in wasting tyres and frustrating the rider.
2. A Rookie Error
We have been very open that 2021 is a development year for us and we are not just saying that. Even with an experienced team, a rookie is still a rookie and will make rookie errors from time to time. These errors are actually awesome for their development, some things are just better learnt firsthand.
Tim’s mistake was he pushed a little too hard in an area he was already very quick. Instead, he should have focussed more on his weaker areas. Focussing on your weak points is never much fun and is a lot more like hard work. So naturally when the red mist descends, a rider’s tendency is to try harder in the parts they are already fast because they feel confident there.
It is the completely natural thing to do. However, it is not smart. The best lap time improvement comes from improving the areas you suck in, not the ones where you are already good.
Tim just went balls out into the fast sweeper, a section of track he was already fast. This coupled with the strong tail wind on Saturday morning that was different to Friday caught him out. He was in a bit too hot, the bike started to run wide and when he tried to pull it back on the line and it simply said “good-bye Timbo”
It was a high speed crash but luckily Tim was unharmed, the bike on the other hand not so much…….
While it was a rookie error, we are super happy he did it and we are also sure it won’t be the last time he ever does something like that. It’s part of his development and he is required to push his limits, sometimes he will make mistakes. With experience the mistakes will just be less frequent.
3. Lack of Preparation
As a team we were very under prepared for the weekend and ASBK. We were aware of this heading to Winton and knew we were going to need a bit of luck and things to go smoothly for there to be any possibility of a decent result.
The lack of preparation did not really have anything to do with Tim’s illness heading into the round. It was more to do with a lack of spares, and 2nd bike prep heading into the round. The main reason for this has been the tsunami of work that has hit the workshop in early 2021. The amount of track days, club racing, tassie trips that have been all scheduled at once now that the lockdowns have lifted has been very difficult to stay on top off. Add to this we have been a staff member down for a little while it has meant that the race team has had to take a back seat to our customer work.
Tim’s #2 bike was just way too under spec to be competitive at ASBK level. So while we used it a Qualyifing 2, it was a mad scramble to get the #1 bike rebuilt for race day.
Jake Drew and Saucy did a great job in getting that done but with sheer amount of work to do and lack of spares it was always going to be a tough gig.
Ultimately this all caught up with us in Race 2 where Tim failed to finish when the mounts for the seat unit broke.
4. A Setting change that didn’t work
Our Friday went smoothly with our strategy working perfectly. We didn’t make any settings changes at all over the Friday instead using our tried and tested FD-03 base setting and focussing on our plan for Tim’s riding.
After our Friday night debrief, we decided to modify the setup a little to provide Tim with better braking stability and more ground clearance.
We only got a handful of laps in Qualifying 1 before Tim’s big off, but Tim still managed to get back into the 1.24s. With only our limited information we were still unsure if the change was a step in the right direction but there was enough evidence to stick with it as the lap time was decent and Tim preferred the extra ground clearance.
Sunday morning warm up was going to be key for us to give the new setting a good test but when an electrical gremlin struck as a result of the crash, we lost the opportunity to properly test the change.
In race 1 we stuck with the new setting but after a handful of laps it was clear this setup was a backward step. Tim was struggling for pace with the bike not turning as well mid turn as the Friday setting, this really hurt his lap time.
With hindsight it turns out the 1.24 Tim did on that new setting on Saturday was the improvement in the rider, not bike.
So for Race 2 we reverted back to the Friday setting. Tim instantly felt more confident and was ready for a good race. Unfortunately, the rear set mounts had different plans
5. A True reflection for the better
While we could sit here and say, “only if this happened or that happened the results would have been better”. We could also say next time we are going to be better and all that carry on but that is more just hope than reality.
There is absolutely no doubt Tim and team were making progress and if circumstances were different the laps times would have continued to drop. But truth is that would have needed a fair bit of luck to go our way.
Our results were actually a very good indication of where we are at and the work we have ahead of us. As much as it sucks, with things going wrong we will be better in the long run.
The next round of the ASBK is at Wakefield Park, a track that Tim does not know. We also have the Vic Titles before then which will mean the workload we have will not ease before then.
So Wakefield Park will be another challenging weekend for us but they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
FP3 - P11 1.24.7
Q1 - P13 1.24.9 (crash)
Q2 - P16 1.25.5
Qualifying Overall - P14
Race 1 - P14
Race 2 - DNF
Massive thanks to Jake Drew, Mick Large, Saucy
Yamaha Racing Development Program
SBS Brake Pads
DNA High Performance Filters