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TECH ROUND-UP: swingarm evolutions and chassis modifications headlines Barcelona test

Tuesday, 23 August 2022 06:54 GMT

Whilst there’s a break in the action from the hustle and bustle of the usual Word Championship calendar, testing was on the agenda in Spain, with a load of new tech on show

The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship may be in its mid-season summer break but that didn’t stop plenty of teams bring technical innovations to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya test. With Pirelli bringing a new front tyre which many in the paddock have dubbed the “SCQ front”, the softest compound available generally had good performance for up to five laps before dropping off, but it’s a tyre that gave good grip early on in the stints. Besides this, there were new swingarms, modified chassis, rear-brake changes and upgraded braking systems, not to mention plenty of extensive work on electronics. Here’s our Barcelona summer test tech round-up…

DUCATI: the swingarm evolves further

The Italian manufacturer always brings something to testing and this time, it was an evolution of the swingarm. The one they’ve used throughout 2022 was first seen in the 2021 Barcelona test when Scott Redding and Michael Ruben Rinaldi trialled it, however it wasn’t used in racing. However, it made an appearance in Barcelona once again in 2022 and has been used throughout the season so far.

However, the latest evolution is once again different – they’ve removed the carbon from the top part, instead replaced by unbraced aluminium which has a hole in it, revealing more of the chain. The weld point is also further to the back and curved, rather than the vertical weld point which is not as far back. The end result on track was to target more rear grip, but Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) felt it was a step backwards in the hotter afternoon track temperatures and that ‘nothing was found’ with it in general. However, teammate Rinaldi did find positives, and hopes to see it at races and tests in the future. You can read more about it here.

BMW: new braking system and electronics gains

The first thing regarding BMW before any of the tech-related updates is that Michael van der Mark was FINALLY back. The Dutchman, who has been side-lined in 2022 with injury, was back aboard his M1000RR in Barcelona. Returning to the tech, this was also the first time that he got to try the new swingarm and he echoed teammate Scott Redding’s earlier comments that it was a definite step forward. Despite some technical issues at the start of the day, it was a positive day for van der Mark, who got back up to speed, although he still hopes to find a solution to the bike’s turning.

For Redding, this test saw him trialling a new braking system, which gave the British rider more initial braking power, something he’d been lacking since the start of his switch to BMW and thus Nissin brakes. From midday on the second day, Redding and his crew worked on electronics, which wasn’t expected to be plan but he was happy to improve the feeling and get a clearer direction on where he and the team need to go for the project’s next steps. Working on chassis as well in search of rear grip, it “didn’t hit the spot” for Redding, so they went back to what they knew. Still hoping for an improvement on edge grip, Redding said that “it’d be nice to have more updates on the swingarm, electronics and engine” and that “it’d be great to have another update before the end of the year”, whilst the work done on the electronics is something he’s keen on taking to Magny-Cours. In terms of swingarm evolution, Redding confirmed there would be some, but not for the next round.

HONDA: chassis bracing change and rear handbrake for Lecuona, expect updates

Team HRC had a successful test with both riders inside the top six on Saturday’s first day before Iker Lecuona went second on day two. Xavi Vierge was seventh, although he never used the softest available tyre, instead working on race pace which looked strong. Confirming upgrades to the CBR1000RR-R SP, team manager Leon Camier stated that the chassis had been braced differently, hopefully giving more stability in braking as well as in the mid-to-exit phase of cornering, with both riders “very positive” about that and with it being a “good step” and bringing a “clear difference”.

Iker Lecuona was then trying a new rear handbrake, whereas usually he uses the foot-style one, although the jury’s out as to whether or not he preferred it. Apart from that, the usual geometry options were tested but more time was needed on one side, whilst it was a “definite positive” for the other. When asked about the prospect of new parts to come, Camier stated “potentially, but I can’t say too much at the minute; we’re waiting on some things but hopefully we have some new items coming, hopefully before the fly-aways.”

KAWASAKI: new electronic software, “working for 2023” and hotter track conditions

With Ducati, BMW and Honda all bringing sizeable upgrades, there wasn’t too much to get stuck into at Kawasaki; balance was the order of the day on Saturday, whilst understandings electronics was also on the agenda, with Pere Riba also teasing that “working for 2023” was also in their mind, although he was coy on exactly how and what on. Come the close of day two, Rea revealed work with new electronics software which is giving them a clear direction to follow in the future, as well as extensive work on race starts style and the technical inputs that he goes through. He also tried a different bike position and the overall purpose on day one was to work in hotter track conditions, one of the weak points of the ZX-10RR and the conclusion was positive.

YAMAHA: getting back up to speed, working on the rear

Despite the headline surrounding Yamaha being that reigning World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu got launched in a big highside at Turn 5 on day two, Yamaha’s test wasn’t the most positive, but it was still productive. They didn’t bring any new items, with it being a test to primarily get back up to speed. Working on different combinations regarding link, shock setting and chain force, day one was a struggle for both as they chased rear grip – for Toprak specifically, it was exiting third gear corners and tyre management.

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