Same Questions, Different Answers
three riders, three answers
by dean adams
Friday, April 22, 2005

Today I asked three riders basically the same questions regarding the Barber racetrack and how their Superbikes work here. These are their answers.

  • Mat Mladin, American Suzuki

    What do you think of this track?

    Mat Mladin wonders why people call Barber a "European-style track".
    image by tim huntington
    It's a fun track. I hear a lot of reference to it being a "European style track" and I think in setting it's somewhat European, but the track would have to be stretched out a lot in order to make it a European style track. European racetracks are typically fairly long, something like 1:40 plus (per lap), so these guys are fifteen seconds short.

    I think the racetrack is good. (Pause) But, I just think that in starting on a clean sheet of paper like they did here, if they had made it ten or fifteen second longer they would have really had a good international venue as a race circuit. And .. there's a couple of spots here that could use some work in terms of safety; in AMA we've not had any major incidents here yet, but there's a couple of spots that something could happen in. And I'm just not the kind of person who likes to wait until something happens and then you fix them. I've done a lot of laps around a lot of racetracks to know when there could be a problem.

    In general, we can't complain. Compared to some of the places we go to, we have to be really happy with this place.

    From a safety standpoint I'd like to see this place sorted out in a couple of places to make it really, really good.

    Is there a section of the track that your bike works better in than others?

    This 2005 bike works good everywhere. From the chassis I feel we have made some progress with this bike, as compared to last year. And the motor, well, the motor is so much stronger it's ridiculous.

    Any where that it works worse than in others?

    Not really, I'm pretty happy with the bike. In racing and in testing there hasn't been anywhere we've gone this year that it hasn't worked. Not yet, anyway.

  • Miguel DuHamel, American Honda

    What do you think of this track?

    Miguel DuHamel wishes the track was faster, and that his bike would steer better.
    image by tim huntington
    I'm always happy and disappointed when I come here because it's such a beautiful venue, but I wish they'd done it so it is a little safer, a little faster. But they care about bikes and that's what counts, and if they'd take this same attitude to the other tracks we use it would be great. But as a new facility it's the same old story since I have been coming here. The surface is good, predictable, and the tar patches are not too slippery. They're looking out for us, and that counts for a lot.

    The track does not flow. You're always turning. That's the thing. It's left, right, left, incline, decline, etc. Just as a pure design I was really disappointed, because they could have stretched this out, they have the land, pull a corner or two out, they could have incorporated a long straight, and I think it would have been faster, safer. It could have been a venue where they could have attracted either World Superbike or Grand Prix, easily. But the way they did it, they have a couple of whammies going against them: it's probably not safe enough for MotoGP and it's too tight. I don't think you could run a MotoGP bike here.

    Is there a section of the track that your bike works better in than others?

    The 600 Extreme bike works really well here. The Superbike, we've got a new set up on it that we haven't really fully tested here. We started using it at Fontana (test). Today it was wet when we were out there and we didn't get to go out there when it was dry. We'll see.

    We're changing the chassis a little bit to help me in the transitions. We're raising the ride height, have some new clips-ons and changing the steering angle a little bit. Here, the track is so busy, and you're constantly flopping the bike from side to side. We're trying to get the feeling back on the bike where it was easier to flick back and forth. You've got to be strong to flick the bike around that much; it's easy to be strong for five laps. It's much different to try and be that strong for 25 laps (laughs).

    Any where that it works worse than in others?

    Definitely the transitions are holding us back. I'd like the bike to steer a little better, but that's a nasty combination. If you're trying to get the bike to flick through the transitions and to steer better, that's a tough combination to fix. The bike steers good, it just needs to be better. If the bike is heavy on the transitions, then there you go, you miss the apex and then you can't attack the exit of the corner the way you want to.

  • Josh Hayes, Attack Kawasaki

    What do you think of this track?

    Josh Hayes's Attack Kawasaki needs room to run. He won't find it here.
    image by tim huntington
    It's a great racetrack; it's a beautiful facility, with great features and access, and the art is really nice. I wish it were a little bigger. It's a beautiful facility, but I just wish it had some long straights that took up some of the track, we could stretch the legs on these Superbikes.

    We're a little behind here. We didn't get to test here, but came to test yesterday and the weather fouled us up a little. And now we've done a wet Superbike practice. We're a little behind; I haven't ridden much since Daytona, really. We've got some new parts, some new ideas and we just need some time to implement these things.

    Is there a section of the track that your bike works better in than others?

    There's really no place on this track that plays up to the strengths of my bike. We're trying to have a good all-around bike, that's our goal.

    Any where that it works worse than in others?

    I'm sure that there are plenty of riders who like these short tracks. I guess if you look at me I have had better luck at some of the bigger tracks. I think the bike is okay here; I just like bigger tracks.


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