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This is an excerpt taken from Guy’s monthly column in Performance Bikes magazine. It was published a couple of months ago…
‘BSB’s rules have changed this year and that will even things up for some people. I think one team that might suffer from not being able to use the top level electronics is Swan Yamaha. Their R1 was the best bike out there last year, but no one, anywhere in the world, that I know of, has done anything on a Yamaha R1 unless it’s one of the Belgarda ones from Italy. The cross-plane crank R1 hasn’t won World or British Superstock races [in which bikes must rely on their standard characteristics to be competitive], so as good as it is, it looks like it needs the Marelli electronics to be usable. It still wasn’t the fastest bike out there, but it was usable. Look at Crutchlow, he won World Superbike races on it in his first year in WSB. I heard his time on the R1 would have qualified sixth on the MotoGP grid. The R1 isn’t like the Ten Kate Honda from a few years ago that would go past anything in a straight line, but it’s dead usable.
‘All the modern superbikes are good, but the Yam stands out because it’s trying to plough a different furrow with its uneven firing order. It’s copying the GP bikes, but you speak to people who know what they’re doing in that job and they’ll say you need an even spread firing order. The reason for going the Yamaha route is to extend tyre life of the GP bike and they’ve made that a selling point for the road bike. There are negatives, like you have to run a power-sapping balancer shaft, but the firing order gives the tyre a better life. The thing is, I don’t think it’s as crucial in BSB.
‘If the riders were honest I don’t think any of them would want to be on the Yamaha in 2012. They’d want to be on the Honda or Suzuki. Look at what Glen Richards and Graeme Gowland were doing on Evo Hondas last year. They were running up the front on the specification of bikes everyone will have to be on this year. That proves the Honda works, if nowt else.
‘People have said the rule change will mean cheaper racing, but it’s not cheaper, in the short term, for teams like SMR’s Swan Yamaha that have invested squillions of pounds on the best electronics, but Hutchie will still use it for the TT.
‘As for Suzuki’s. Seeley is impressive. He was in the top six the last time he raced the Superbike, in 2010, and he won the British Supersport title for the TAS Suzuki team last season. While Brookes (in the photo on his way to pole this weekend) won in dodgy conditions on the GSX-R1000 in 2011, he didn’t win in a straight fight in the dry. I’m not sure if he gelled with the bike 100%. That bike’s good though, I know that.
‘Shane Byrne was looking like he was going to win it last year, but then seemed to be having trouble with the bike and it sounds like his team were testing at Castle Combe a lot, trying to get the electrics right.
If I had to put my money on anyone I’d say Shane Byrne. He’s on the Paul Bird Kawasaki with Stuart Easton, and they’ve got an experienced team. A Kawasaki hasn’t won a major championship for a long time, though…’
Written by Gary Inman