ROSSI GETS NEW CHASSIS FOR LEMANS

After struggling to solve the YZR-M1′s chatter problems at the first four rounds of the 2006 season – reigning MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi will be given a new chassis for this weekend’s French Grand Prix at Le Mans.

Camel Yamaha has been unable to fix the speed-limiting vibration problem using set-up changes alone, prompting Rossi to initially ask if the proven, vibration-free, 2005 chassis could be fitted to the new 2006 engine.

That wasn’t possible, but Yamaha has now done the next best thing by designing a new chassis which aims to replicate the handling characteristics of the 2005 M1. However, debuting the new design on a grand prix weekend is a clear risk – it will take time for Rossi and Camel Yamaha to understand, set-up and exploit the new design – and probably indicates that riders and team have lost hope of curing the original 2006 chassis.

Indeed, Rossi – who was knocked down at the first turn in Spain, won next time out at Qatar, took fourth in Turkey and then suffered a tyre failure last weekend at Shanghai – simply can’t afford to lose many more points, after slipping 32 behind world championship leader Nicky Hayden.

 

 

“Sunday was the second time in the first four races that we’ve scored virtually zero points and on both occasions it hasn’t been our fault,” reflected Rossi. “Luck has definitely not been on our side but the most important thing now is to sort our problems out as soon as possible because we have a run of important races coming up – starting at Le Mans. The next four or five rounds in Europe are the ‘main course’ of the season and it is a critical time for us.”

“After such a difficult start, which nonetheless has given us one win with Valentino and Colin’s recent podium, I hope the next few weeks in Europe will be like a new beginning to the season for us,” said team director Davide Brivio. “The races coming up are crucial but all we can do is keep our heads down and continue to work hard on solving the problems we have found this year.

“The engineers at Yamaha have been working very hard to make sure that is the case and Valentino will have a new chassis available from the first practice session on Friday,” confirmed Brivio. “We will compare it with the current one and will decide later if we will use it or not. We will also remain there for a test on Monday to continue with our development.

“Last year we had a very good weekend at Le Mans, which finished with both of our riders on the podium, so it would be nice to repeat that result! If we can shake off the bad luck that has been following us around the world recently then we have plenty of reason to be confident,” he concluded.

 

One thing that could work in the team’s favour this weekend is that, according to Rossi’s chief mechanic Jeremy Burgess, there are no hidden secrets to the track in terms of machine set-up.

“Le Mans as a circuit is probably the least technical on the whole calendar – it doesn’t really have any stand-out features or characteristics that set it out from the rest, certainly not in a positive way,” said JB. “You need good acceleration out of the slow corners, which is why we struggled there on our first visit with the M1 in 2004 because we were trying out new engines before tackling the true horsepower tracks like Barcelona, Mugello and Assen.

“Last year we had a fully-developed bike so we were able to make the minor adjustments that this circuit requires and both Valentino and Colin were fast. Clearly with so much hard braking you need firmer fork settings and spring rates on the front, and then a slightly softer spring on the rear so that the rider can hold his line on the exit. That’s it really – there are no secrets to Le Mans!”

First free practice at Le Mans takes place on Friday morning.

 

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