STEVE BLACKBURN: THERE ARE ONLY FOUR PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO RIDE THESE BIKES

05.07.2018

Moto GP bikes are, without a doubt, some of the most fascinating machines in motorsport. So, to find out more about them we talked to Zarco’s mechanic Steve Blackburn, who knows the Yamaha like the back of his hand.

 

 

STEVE BLACKBURN: THERE ARE ONLY FOUR PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO RIDE THESE BIKES

Hi Steve. Before we start, what’s your role within the Monster Energy tech3 team?  

 

I’m the gearbox mechanic on Johan Zarco’s bike. So my main focus is looking after the gearbox, but during the race weekend I help out on pretty much anything.

 

Let’s start with the basics – can you tell us all about Zarco’s bike. How different is it to a regular Yamaha Sportsbike?

 

Actually there is hardly any similarity at all – I mean they’ve both got two wheels but that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. These Moto GP bikes are one-of-a-kind, hand-built machines. There are only four riders in the world that have access to the bikes, so they are pretty unique. And each individual bike is also very different. We are one step “below” the blue Yamaha team next-door, but even Zarco’s bike is different than Syahrin’s. So they’re all totally unique.

 

What engine do they run?

 

It’s a very specific M1 engine that is specifically developed for this bike and this championship. It’s a 1000cc in-line four cylinder engine mated to a seamless six speed gearbox. They don’t tell us the specific output numbers and they vary from setup to setup, but power should be around 250-260 bhp. Combine that with a wet weight of 175kg (160kg dry) and that’s a pretty good power-to-weight ratio. A Moto GP bike will easily out-accelerate a formula one car.

 

 

 

STEVE BLACKBURN: THERE ARE ONLY FOUR PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO RIDE THESE BIKES

I suspect the rest of the bike is all carbon fibre?

 

No, actually the chassis and the swing arm are made of aluminium. All the bodywork and the entire seat-tail unit – those are carbon-fibre. In Moto GP the chassis is super delicate for the rider. It can’t just all be rigid. You need some flexibility in there to get the right feeling and a full carbon set-up just won’t give you that. As with all the bikes, the chassis is very personal to the rider. For instance, the blue team next-door has gone through many, many chassis in the last few years, making minimal tweaks for every race. Zarco actually rides a late 2016 chassis, but it just works for us and so that’s why we stick to it.

 

Every rider has two bikes. How do you alternate them during a race weekend ?

 

Basically every bike has a slightly different setting that we think might work on a track. So for the first few practice sessions, he goes out on both bikes and gives us feedback. We then use that feedback to tweak the settings while he’s out on the other bike and when he returns he’ll get on the bike with the new settings and so on. It’s a good way to experiment a lot during a weekend. But to be fair, since we’ve been running this bike for a few years now, we know it quite well and there really isn’t much that needs to change – maybe some spring rates or the ride heights, just basic settings. We never really need to try something radically new.

 

 

 

STEVE BLACKBURN: THERE ARE ONLY FOUR PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO RIDE THESE BIKES

Provided there are no dramas, what is the regular maintenance like on these bikes?

 

Right after qualifying, I took the gearbox out, completely disassembled it and checked every gear and gearbox component. I also checked the clutch plate, which is something I do after every session as they are pretty sensitive. It a had a new exhaust and I fitted a new chain. We also checked and cleaned the brakes. It’s all just general stuff, and because he was happy during qualifying we didn’t make any changes to the settings or suspension.

 

 

 

STEVE BLACKBURN: THERE ARE ONLY FOUR PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO RIDE THESE BIKES

Pictures : @Frederik Herregods

 

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more