One can get the idea that factories
throw new development parts at their Grand Prix machines every weekend
but in fact finding more speed is not that easy and no one wants
to take risks in the middle of a Grand Prix campaign. Even in the
off season major strides forward are not easily made. "The
cylinders stayed the same from '89 to 90 and even '91 where we even
has a bigger problem. We got some pipes in '90 that picked it up
a little. We had tried some cylinders at the beginning of '90 that
with hindsight actually were the way to go but they needed a bit
of work. We opted to go with the '89 direction. We might have followed
the new direction if we had the riders on the bike knowing what
1991 was a big change, with the increase in weight limit and changing to Dunlop it threw everything. We really struggled at the start to make the bike work with the tyres but it was only about two thirds of the way through that we started to get the bike to work. We had to make some big changes, we were learning about the rear suspension travel and damping rates and all sorts of things to match the tyres performance. It was a really hard year in that respect."
"With the weight piled on the bike it was very different. We had an aluminum (instead of magnesium) engine and a different chassis to get the weight up to 130kg. The center of gravity had changed a lot and with the different tyres we were looking in all directions. My opinion was that we had to run a lot less compression damping in the rear. I think the results kind of show that we were only starting to figure it out from two thirds of the way through the season on."
"We were generally getting more weight on the from all year through '91. I think with Kevin's style of stopping and turning it the weight bias towards the rear was never a problem but all the riders he had as team mates were saying that they didn't have the front contact they wanted. Having all the weight in the read did aid the steering which Kevin liked, all the weight in the front means it is much more of a tank to move around."
"We were starting to get a bit more front weight and learn how to use the weight, lifting the motor towards the end of '91. That created problems with airflow and things like that but the lesson had been learnt. We could see that it helped steering, but the breathing then needed some working on."
"For '92 we went back to Michelins
of course. The bike we had got sorted out with the Dunlops worked
the same when we put the Michelins on it so that proved we were
generally on the right track with it. Of course I ran Doug in '92,
he wanted more front weight all the time as well. We were trying
all year to give it better front contact. We tried to increase the
grip on the edge of the rear tyre and improve suspension response
both front and back. Not more damping overall but the immediate
damping from zero piston stroke seemed to have a tendency to bounce
around a bit like it didn't have any damping for a while."
"The motor wasn't too bad in '92 perhaps the response wasn't as good or as smooth as the others but generally on power it wasn't too bad. It was very useful having Doug come straight off a Yamaha and possibly the fact that he had been around Rainey. It gave him the right background to play around quite a lot. I think that helped with a few things."
The bike was really competitive in '92 but not perfect and Tonge says that the problem was not hard to pick out. "It was no coincidence that they were both falling off on the front tyre. We still didn't have enough front contact. I think the thing was balanced pretty well but it was just that we didn't have quite enough stick in the front and that they were trying to make it up all the time. That is where the 16.5 was such a big help in '93, it made the stick. With our bias toward the back it still steered well and gave it a bit more grip."
1992 saw the advent of the Big Bang engine in response to Honda's lead in that area. "We got the short firing order engine on Hockenheim. Suzuki played around in the early '80s with that. As soon as they heard the Honda they knew what it was exactly, I think everyone did who half knew how the engine worked."
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