Like Bridgestone, the Go&Fun Gresini Honda team have also developed the good habit of providing a post-race technical debrief with a member of their team after most races. Today, they issued a debrief with Cristian Gabarrini, formerly Casey Stoner's crew chief and now the technical lead providing support for Honda's RCV1000R production racer at each track. In the press release, Gabarrini discusses the progress the project has made so far, how HRC have handled the spec electronics, and the challenges faced by Scott Redding, especially, as one of the tallest and heaviest riders. As always, when Gabarrini speaks, there is something of interest to be learned:
SPAIN MOTOGP DEBRIEF WITH CRISTIAN GABARRINI
The Honda RCV1000R, the new machine especially developed by HRC for the brand new Open Class, is one of the major technical topics of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship.
One of the four “Production Racer” bikes on the grid is raced by Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Scott Redding: an interesting project, given that the Briton is a MotoGP rookie - the only one among the four riders who ride the RCV1000R - and counts on a technical package with different parts compared to his competitors, with Showa suspension and Nissin brake system (like his team-mate Bautista, who, however, rides the “Factory spec” RC213V).
Four races into the season we can begin to draw up a first assessment of the project: let’s see in detail with HRC’s Cristian Gabarrini, who is responsible for the entire RCV1000R program, which has been the work done so far on the bike and his relationship with the teams.
“My role involves basically two activities - explains Gabarrini – First, I’m the link between the work we do on track and the HRC engineers who work at home: everything related to possible problems that may arise, including reliability issues, or requests made from teams for any kind of improvements, pass through me, without intermediaries. Second, I’m available to support the teams with regard to the set-up: during the race weekend I can provide assistance to the crew chiefs to compare the data in order to understand more quickly the right direction to take”.
Is there an exchange of information between the four riders aboard the RCV1000R?
“Yes, there is, but it’s obviously filtered due to a confidential agreement with the technical suppliers: the Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini, for example, is the only one to use Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, therefore HRC is monitoring the situation in order to avoid a transfer of confidential information”.
What about a first assessment of the project after the first four races of the season?
“I would say that the assessment so far is quite positive: the first most critical phase, in which a completely new bike is brought on track for a race weekend and in which often emerge reliability issues that can hardly be verified during testing, has been overcome quite easily. This important phase was concentrated basically in the first two testing sessions of the year, and has also been facilitated by the large amount of data available, having four riders on the track. Then we had the opportunity to begin to focus our efforts on performance improvements and on finding the best way to take for the bike set-up, with all four riders. Some upgrades have also been made to the electronic calibrations, as allowed by regulation. Now we are carrying on a more specific work, rider by rider, with the aim of assessing their common needs. If a complaint or a request comes from all the riders, it’s clear that it’s a characteristic of the motorcycle which still needs to be improved or adapted”.
Have you already experienced similar requests from all the four riders?
“Yes, with regard to the electronics: we therefore worked in that direction, giving to our teams some upgrades that have been appreciated by all our riders. From the set-up point of view there is still not a meeting point, but this is due to the fact that the riders have a different riding style and completely different characteristics. Redding, for example, is forced to stay on the bike in a different position being much taller and heavier than Hayden or Aoyama. I suppose, however, that in a few races also the needs regarding chassis set-up adjustments will converge”.
Speaking about electronics, which kind of work has been done in details?
“The software available for the Open Class bikes offers a certain number of adjustments for each area - e.g., traction control, engine braking, torque curves, etc.. - If a request is made by a team for a further ‘extra’ adjustment and Dorna believes that’s reasonable, this upgrade is provided to all. At the moment, we haven’t had the need to add something, because the current software is able to provide us with what we need. In HRC, however, we have adapted what we already have available to our specific needs, in particular with regard to the engine brake management: among the various ways in which you can manage it, we have identified the most suitable for the characteristics of our bike”.
Redding is the only MotoGP rookie aboard the RCV1000R: what about his apprenticeship?
“First of all, Scott has a very positive approach: he’s very open to listen to the advice coming from his team and from HRC. He's working a lot on his riding style because he comes from a category where the engine power is very limited, so he is used to carry a higher cornering speed, while in MotoGP you need a compromise that allows you to raise the bike as soon as possible on the exit, increasing the contact surface of the tyre, with benefits on tyre wear and on acceleration. After all, this is an issue on which all the riders coming from a smaller class must work. Scott is also very tall and heavy, so he needs a specific set-up, influenced also by the fact that he’s really aggressive under braking”.