The 2012 World Superbike season was victim to a number of red flags stopping the races due to adverse weather conditions. The races were stopped because the weather conditions were deemed as being unsafe for the riders to race on the tyres they had chosen when they initially went out. However, this year, instead of the series being plagued by red flags, there is a new rule which allows riders to enter the pits for a tyre change during the race.
This presents a new challenge to teams. For many mechanics there has never been a reason to change tyres as quickly as possible but with podium positions on the line, it is important to ensure that this tyre change happens as quickly – but as safely – as possible.
Andrea Dosoli, Technical Director for the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team emphasises this and explains that it’s not just the parts of the motorcycle you have to work on, it’s the team too:
“You can work on the technical aspect of the bikes. For example, designing and fitting new parts to the bike in order to make the tyre change fast but you have to work on the internal organisation of the team and practice a lot. Our team is not used to quick tyre changes. We practiced it straight away with Chaz in race two at Phillip Island so we are in good shape. We work in parallel with the technical aspects of the bike and with the team.”
As always, the team tries to prepare themselves in the best way possible and ensure that if or when the challenge arises they are ready. Stephan Fischer, Technical Director at BMW Motorrad Motorsport adds: “This is another task for the team to deal with and we try to prepare ourselves. It adds a new complexity, not only from a performance point of view but we should always make sure that everything is working properly and that importantly everything is safe for us and our competitors.”
As well as a different set of tyres, the teams will need to change the settings of the BMW S 1000 RR to account for these new wet tyres. But without the bike being able to enter the garage during the pit stop and time being of the essence, how will they manage?
“It is not easy,” admits Dosoli. “However we have developed a system which allows us to change at least some of the basic parameters on the bike in order to be safe with the wet tyre – as we cannot go out on a wet tyre with a dry setting!”
Rider safety is a priority for the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team and the WSBK organisers, therefore the pit stop will be monitored by a marshal in pit lane should it take place.
If the weather is as unpredictable as last year, then it’s possible that we might be seeing one of these pit stops sooner rather than later!