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PBM Motorland Aragon MotoGP Update

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The rapid solicitors Paul Bird Motorsport Aprilia team all arrived within an hour of each other at Aeropuerto de Zaragossa and we all went together to our hotel in Alcañiz. After checking in ad getting settled, we walked out of the hotel, crossed a bridge and found a nice little pub where we had a team meal of eggs, patatas, bacon & sausages, which my partner, Victor, says is a typical meal for Northeastern Spain. It wasn’t nearly as fancy as the food we had in Catalan, but it was hearty and delicious! It was good to sit down with the entire team, both sides of the pit box , and get caught up- we’re usually soooo busy diring a race weekend that we rarely have the time to even talk to each other beyond the usual passing grunts.

Wednesday, we checked in to Ciudad del Motor de Aragón, better known as Motorland Aragón and began setting up the pitbox. In addition to the normal race weekend duties, we also had to prep for the three upcoming rounds in Asia, so all of are crates for electronics, body panels & spares had to have their casters removed for air freight transport after the race. All told, setup went relatively easily, we then put ML1 on stands on the bike table, thoroughly cleaned it and serviced the rear brake caliper that had given Michael Laverty so much trouble in San Marino, and replaced the rear master cylinder, as well and had the bike ready for the weekend by Wednesday evening.

Michale Laverty's flight case, packed & ready for Asia

Michale Laverty’s flight case, packed & ready for Asia

Thursday, we began on ML2, which was previously our backup machine. Victor and put it up on the stand and took out the old spec 4 motor and put in a fresh spec 2 engine, making it identical to ML1 and our primary racebike for the rest of the season, since it was now up to top spec, with less wear and tear. We left Motorland Aragón relatively early and headed back to to our hotel Alcañiz and went back to the same pub, where I had the same meal as the night before, the #4: Patatas, huevos, bacon sausages.

For Friday’s FP1 session, we were a little behind, the track was cold and Michael Laverty struggled for grip , eking out a 1:53.352 for 22nd. We weren’t sure whether it was the track or our electronics strategies, but nothing that we did seemed to make much of a difference, we changed the swingarm pivot a few times in a vain attempt to find more grip, but disappointingly, we finished the day near the back of the back, with a 1:52.6, a nearly a second faster, but only good for P22.

Day 1: "Not Much grip." Michael Laverty Photo by Gold & Goose

Day 1: “Not Much grip.” Michael Laverty
Photo by Gold & Goose

Saturday morning, we made a few more minor chassis adjustments and found a bit of the elusive grip, but not nearly as much as we were hoping for. 1:52.315. After FP3, Victor and I focussed on putting the more powerful Spec 4 motor into ML2 for qualifying , while Michael Laverty went out on ML1 in FP4. The warming track surface allowed us to find a little more grip and Michael dropped a second and another spot on the time sheets, with a 1:51.606 at 21st, ahead of Avinta’s Mike Dimeglio and PBM teammate, Broc Parkes. Qualifying on the more powerful Spec 4 equipped ML2 only brought Michael modest gains, dropping o.4 of a second, remaining at 21st, starting sunday’s MotoGp main event from the 7th row.

Day 2 Photo by Cormac Ryan-Meenan

Day 2 Photo by Cormac Ryan-Meenan

Raceday Sunday started off dark, cold and overcast, we knew that it was going to rain at some point in the day, but we didn’t know when. Victor and I set up ML1 for wet duty, with rain tires and electronics strategies in the ECU optimized for the wet, while ML2 was shod with Bridgestone slicks. the morning MotoGP Warmup revealed nothing, because of the cold, Michael and the rest of the grid tiptoed around the track, no one wanting to ris throwing their bikes away right before the race. Michael started the race on the dry bike, ML2, and we set ML1 up on pit lane, ready for a hand off when/if it began to rain. Michael made a mistake on the opening lap and had to make up time in order to do battle with Broc, Avinta’s Mike DiMeglio and Octo IodaRcing’s Danillo Petrucci, making his way up to 19th. The white flag came out with 11 laps to go, so Victor and I dashed to pit road to prepare for the bike handoff when Michael Laverty came in; we hadn’t practiced the exchange, but we were ready. Michael pitted in with 8 laps to go, I caught ML2, while Victor held ML1, warmed up and ready to go in the rain. Michael jumped between the bikes with ease and filtered back onto the track in 17th, with attrition taking a toll on the field in the rain. Marc Marquez crashed and remounted in last place and for a while, it seemed like we might beat him! but with his incredible talent, he passed late in the race and Michael Laverty fought hard to catch Pramac Ducati’s Yonny Hernandez, only to cross the line in 16th place for the 6th time this season, just off of the points, which seems like our most comfortable spot.

After the race was over, we got busy taking everything down and packing it all up for the flight to Asia and had it all done at a reasonable hour. Since we were all flying out in the morning, we got together for another team meal at of favorite spot in Alcañiz and a few beers as we watched the MotoGp replay on the telly. I’m looking forward to the next 3 rounds, but it will be a hard time on the road, as we fly to Motegi, Japan; Phillip Island, Australia & Sepang, Malaysia, with a fair amount of culture shock for this ol’ boy from Florida as we do three races, in three weeks, in three countries, on two different continents, half a world away from my wife Michele and daughter, Grace. I’ll definitely miss them, but this will be an incredible adventure!

Note: With Michael Laverty most likely going to BSB for the 2015 season and being based in Luxembourg, it’s not practical for me to work in the UK, so I’m looking for work, preferably with a MotoGP/Moto2 Championship team or with a team in the Superbike World Championship. My resume is available here: William Meyers Resume 2014 09 08

 

 

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