Last year you went to Darwin, you basically had production bikes you were racing after picking up brand new M 1000 RR machines from the local dealer Cyclone Motorcycles.
“Yeah yeah, we just put the bikes together and just went for it. It’s funny. We’ve tried a lot of stuff and moved the bike around a lot, but it seems that setting we had, seems to be the one that works.
“We did a test at Wakefield and put the settings back to what we had at Darwin last year and it seems like a good point for the bike to be in as far as geometry goes and luckily, we’ve had a few upgrades to the bike recently with electronics. The system works in a way that allows you to use those advanced electronics. The bike’s gotten better.
“I always go good at Darwin, so my confidence level is pretty high because I know I am fit enough to go the distance in the heat. The heat is going to play a factor. It’s not just going to be straight up speed. You’re gotta be fit. You’re gotta be ready to go for the full duration of the race so confidence is pretty high for me going into Darwin.”
So, with the electronics what’s happened there?
“It’s called the Race Calibration Kit that BMW have designed so when you buy the kits they come through Alpha, BMW’s arm for all their performance parts so it’s the kit they nominated.
“There hasn’t been an update to the software version since 2019. Basically, the same running software since then and there’s been an update to it, so it’s opened a few more parameters on how the system works. Like now the engine braking calculates the force in the rear wheel and lean angle. It’s helped a lot with engine braking.
“We’re still hunting for a good feel to the throttle in my hand as such.I always felt when I opened the throttle I got too much power and because I’d get too much power, it’d unsettle the bike and then the bike would want to wheelie, and you’d lose all your drive and on a bumpy track like that you need to get your drive back in the middle of the corner when you first touch the throttle. It’s really important. We struggled there [Wakefield].
“We’re in a better place now with the throttle-feel with this new software that manages the ECU. We’re in a better place. It’s not perfect We’re in a better place now than we were at Wakefield, especially in a race.
“The race was difficult. We had a new engine, and it had a lot of power, and it made the throttle feel more difficult as I had more bottom end power and less throttle feel and the two don’t go together.
“The update came through two weeks after the race, worldwide. We had to reprogram the dash so the data logger can also ‘talk’ to the software as well. So, there’s a bit of a process to get them put onto the bikes which took a while.
“You have to hook up to the internet and BMW have to reprogram the dash so once that was done, we went to Wakefield and did a day. Didn’t change anything on the bike we just worked on the software. Got the throttle feel really good. And at the end of the day put a setting in the same as Darwin and the bike felt even better again. So, it was a positive step.”
What about Josh is he following your lead because of your experience on the Beemer?
“Josh and I have similar suspension set-ups but when it comes to how the bike is working on the engine braking and throttle mapping side, we are completely different. I think that’s because Josh is renowned as a Suzuki rider, and they have smooth linear power, so he runs a different set-up with his throttles. He doesn’t use the split throttles that I use and he is very smooth. You can see on the throttle traces he is really smooth on the throttle. I like to get the bike upright and pull on the throttle ready hard but the area he likes to get the bike right both of us are still trying to get more feel with the throttle in your hand and feel the tyre underneath you. I think a big part of it is tyre grip.
“In the cold weather at Wakefield we went from having a lot of grip initially and then the tyre dropping away and once that drops away you don’t have grip.
“The tyre they bring to Darwin works really well, the same tyre as last year, the ‘Y’ tyre. The hot temperatures, the tyre was designed for that so grip was really good there last year so it comes to how muchgrip you’ve got and then that feeling isn’t so sensitive so I am confident that when we get up there… right in the middle of the corner where you pick the throttle up that issue that we seem to have when we don’t have grip won’t be such a big deal this weekend.”
How do you rate the track?
“I love it. I think it is one of the best tracks as far as able to race each other that we go to. The passing opportunities. At the end of the front straight you have a passing opportunity. You’ve ridden the track a fair bit, then at the end of that next chute you have another opportunity, then the next time you grab the brakes in that tight little hairpin there’s another one
“It’s a really good track because… even into that last section the way the corners flow to the right then the braking zone is on the left, it allows to you to get a run-on people on the outside of them you can use their draft and then brake deep into the left hander – that third last corner. It’s a great track I love it. There’s a little bit of undulation in it as well which makes it interesting. I wish it was closer to Sydney so we could ride there all the time! I love the place.“
I know what you mean.
“I know teams don’t want to go to Darwin because of the expense. I get that, but at the same time it’s a great opportunity, especially with the V8s. The tracks awesome. The locals all get behind it. It’s worth the trip.”
ASBK On-Track Schedule Darwin
Add half an hour to times for eastern seaboard AEST
Free Practice 1: 8:50am (30 min)
Free Practice 2: 11:45am (30 min)
Free Practice 3: 2:55pm (35 min)
Qualifying 1: 9:10am (20 min)
Qualifying 2:9:35am (15 min)
Race 1: 1:10pm (16 laps)
The slightly different format of the Hidden Valley event – where there are three races instead of the usual two- also has slightly different TV times and broadcasters.
In 2022, Fox Sports Australia will broadcast live nearly every on-track session plus all races.
As has occured in previous years, Channel 7 will broadcast races one and three live-to-air alongside the regular Supercars TV coverage.
Post event, ASBK TV will work with TV production partners AVE to create a special edition replay of ASBK Round 4 – Darwin. This special edition will be broadcast on SBS – Sunday 3rd July 1300 – 1500 AEST.
As well as the always epic racing, this special edition will feature exclusive behind the scenes action, colour stories and all the thrills and spills from one of the great rounds of any season; Hidden Valley, NT.
ASBK Live Broadcast information
Fox Sports Australia
Friday – Free Practice 2 and Free Practice 3
Saturday – Qualifying 1 & Qualifying 2, plus Race 1
Sunday – Race 2 (Exclusively Live on Fox) & Race 3
Saturday – Race 1
Sunday – Race 3
Sunday 3rd July 1pm- The ASBK Darwin Show
Check the Event Schedule and your local guides for exact times
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