Phil Tainton Interview
Team Suzuki’s Josh Waters and Mark Chiodo will be in action at Winton this weekend for the penultimate round of the ASBK Championship.
After a great start at Phillip Island and good results at Wakefield Park, Waters’ ASBK Championship defence went off the rails a little in South Australia and the Northern Territory.
New ECU implementation struggle
Difficulties in programming a new electronics system has been holding the 31-year-old back, but a breakthough at the Morgan Park round has put them back in the battle.
Thus, at the recent ASBK test session held at Winton a keen eye was being kept on the progress of the Ecstar backed team by their competitors.
ASBK Championship Defence…
While they have a few battles they can win across the final two rounds of ASBK 2018, it would seem the outright war is almost certainly lost.
With four rounds and 102-points still up for grabs, Waters is currently fifth in the points race, a hefty 71-points behind series leader Troy Herfoss.
A great showing in the final rounds though could see Waters potentially pass Daniel Falzon and Troy Bayliss in the championship standings.
Chiodo coming on…
Superbike rookie Mark Chiodo has also been coming along well and his improving form saw him enter the ASBK Championship top ten after claiming 26-points in Darwin.
Trev recently spoke with long time Suzuki tuning supremo Phil Tainton about recent developments in the team and within ASBK.
A chat with Phil….
Trevor Hedge: At Morgan Park you seemed to get your heads around that new ECU and give Josh what he needed to be comfortable. Then you also made some further improvements between race one and race two.
Phil Tainton: “It was getting used to the new electronics, getting a feel for it, getting some settings right on it. It’s really what closed us in at Morgan Park, between the two races, we actually gave it a little bit of suspension adjustment, which finalised the package, I suppose. Over the course of the weekend I was just concentrating on electronics settings and the EM Pro.”
T: And when you got them right you changed the suspenders?
P: “That’s right, sometimes I’m losing sight on the chassis and suspension, because I’m spending so much time on the electronics, but we’re starting to get that bit closer now, so now I’m starting to work on the suspension and the chassis. That’s what we’ve done here today at Winton too, in the last two days, just electronics, electronics, electronics, and now we’ve just done some suspension changes on the front, and we’re all pretty happy with the set-up now.”
T: Obviously everything is always a compromise, I know you can make that Suzuki turn on a dime, as a trade off Josh generally then loses some traction from the rear, is it a more forward or rear based set-up for here, for this particular track…?
P: “It’s a little bit of both, but we got the back end working. Late yesterday, it was working pretty good. And then we just had a not very good feeling on the front, so we worked on that today. That just fitted in with what I’d done yesterday with the rear. We ended up with a pretty good package by the end of the day.”
T: I know quite often you run a camera on the forks, to look at some of what the suspension has been doing, and with the amount of data logging you now have from this test, and your paper notes, how much time will you spend on the computer going away from here, studying all that data?
P: “Quite a bit, there’s so many files and maps for the ECU, and this one when we fitted it for the first time, the AIM Datalogging system, we were running that on the test days, like we did at Morgan Park test days, and we’ve done the same here. Which has been really helpful, that system is fairly cost effective, it all plugs in and now we can measure exactly our suspension movement, our throttle positions, our grip positions on the handlebar, versus the ETV in the throttle bodies. All those things can be measured, we can look at pretty much everything the engine is doing, and the bike and suspension is doing. Front and rear wheel speeds independently, and the track map, the corners, the suspension movement down the middle of the corners. I have heaps to look at.”
T: How do you go about programming your brain to interpret all of that, without getting lost.
P: “With a couple of Aspros…”
T: So realistically between here and race weekend, you probably have 15-20 hours on the computer to really study all that type of stuff, would that be ballpark?
P: “I’m doing it while I’m here too, so probably only a handful of hours, probably half a day on the computer maybe a bit more and then I’ll spend half a day on the suspension dyno and just see if I can improve the suspension from where we are.”
T: And then bring a few different shock set-ups here to start trying on the Friday of race weekend?
P: “Precisely, here we are having a look at suspension position and stuff, when I get home I can convert that into speed, velocity, and I can reproduce that on the shock dyno, and just see if I can improve it in the areas. But look, I think our package is pretty close, where it is, to be quite honest. It’ll just be like you say, sit down at the computer, have a look through, re-run the shocks and the suspension on the dyno and see if I can improve on it, and start to build it up again and come back.”
T: Comparing this season, to say when we used to be running 750s, 20 years ago, how has all this digital technology transformed your race weekend?
P: “I spend all my time on the computer, it’s a headache and I spend all my time with it, in the old days ot was slides, needles, main jets, and now it’s just computers.”
T: The racing this year, it’s been bloody close, hasn’t it?
P: “It’s been a ripper year really, Troy – Herfoss, since there’s two Troy’s now and both are really competitive – is doing really really well, and is a bit ahead of everyone, but the rest of the pack it’s still anyone’s second place in this championship.”
T: On race day a couple of clicks can be the difference between being fourth or first.
P: “That’s made the difference with us, between fourth and second at Morgan Park – to be quite honest, was one or two clicks on the front suspension, and a spring.”
T: We don’t have the budgets of overseas teams and all the rest of it, and I don’t think anyone has a fantastic budget, but how does a privateer honestly stay in the game, without the money and knowledge, or all that time to spend on the computer. It’s almost impossible for them to try and run with the front guys isn’t it?
P: “It is tough for them, I really feel for them, and a lot of the kids I feel for their parents, as it must be costing them a bomb, but racing has always been like that I suppose. When you look back at some of the prices of the FIM kits for the 750 machines, they were horrendous. Radiators were 22k, gearboxes, 10k, Rods were 10k…
“So you know we’re spending it more on electronics and stuff like that now, and even now it still wouldn’t be as much as money as what we used to spend in the old days.
“I feel for the parents, I don’t know what the other teams are doing, both privateers running Suzuki’s I give all the help I can, all the stuff I learnt yesterday I put into Alex’s (Phillis) this morning and last night, and Nathan Spiteri, I gave him help and support with mapping, which we’d learnt yesterday, for his bike today.
“Other adjustments on the bike we put into Alex’s today, and they are really appreciative of that, so while it’s still going to cost them a bundle of money, we’re here to still support them and help them. They are getting the technology that we’re learning from our bikes, we’re giving it straight to them. I let them come in and read my computer and see where our suspension settings are, I don’t mind, if they are running a Suzuki that’s what we do.”
T: Away from the circuit, how’s Phil Tainton Racing going as a business? Still flat out?
P: “Absolutely, too busy, too busy for me to be here really…”
T: Is Warren (Monson) still there?
P: “Warren is still here, he’s been with me for 12 years now.”
T: How many full time employees including yourself?
P: “At the moment it’s just Warren and myself, but if I could find another good guy like Warren I’d put him on. I’ve got way too much work, and I would like a couple of days off *laughs*.”
T: Anecdotally, speaking to a few of the other boys they seem to think Josh might have the pace here to challenge for the wins at Winton.
P: “I reckon he has, I’m quite confident he has.”
ASBK Championship Points Standings
- Troy Herfoss 256.5
- Wayne Maxwell 212
- Troy Bayliss 194
- Daniel Falzon 186
- Josh Waters 185.5
- Bryan Staring 171.5
- Alex Phillis 127
- Glenn Allerton 124
- Matt Walters 112
- Mark Chiodo 83.5
- Arthur Sissis 79.5
- Kyle Buckley 72.5
- Ted Collins 65
- Mitch Levy 65
- Michael Blair 63
- Mitch Rees 61.5
- Corey Turner 60
- Jamie Stauffer 60
- Glenn scott 39
- Aaron Morris 37
2018 ASBK Calendar
- Round 6 – Winton Motor Raceway, Benalla, VIC September 7 – 9
- Round 7 – Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, VIC October 12 – 14