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Paul Bird Motorsports MotoGP San Marino E Della Riviera De Rimini Wrap Up!

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The MotoGP di San Marino ella Riviera de Rimini got off to a great start, flying into the tiny airport in Rimini on a small plane, disembarking on the tarmac and catching a cab to Riccione, on the Riviera, west of San Marino. I checked into my hotel room, put on my swim trunks and went straight to the beach. Ahhhh… this is the life! After i got my fill of the sun & sand, I walked around town for a bit before heading back to the hotel, where I ran into Andrew, from Broc Parkes’ side of the Paul Bird Motorsport garage. We rented bikes and went for a ride along the beach in Riccione, then up into the steep hills overlooking the town. The beach path was packed with cyclists and roller blades and even the climbs were thick with bikes getting their suffer on. Given that most of our race weekends, we’re in 100% work mode, it was nice to be able to have a little R&R before we got down to business at the track. Wednesday, we checked into the the Misano Circuit Marco Simoncelli and began setting up our pit box. That afternoon, we put new motors in ML1 & ML2, replacing the tired engines that Michael Laverty had ridden in Brno & San Marino. This set us up for the next race at Motorland Aragon as well, so we’ll hopefully have minimal setup to do once we get to Spain for the next round. We made pretty good progress & the team left at a reasonable hour & had dinner together at a local pizzeria. The next morning, Victor & I finished putting the bikes back together and added a few minor mods, with a new generation fuel tank on ML2 that moves the weight of the gas lower and forward for better handling & a 5mm lower subframe. Now, both ML1 & ML2 had identical chassis, only the engine spec and electronics strategies were different between the two. Friday, as me and Victor had breakfast at our hotel’s cafe, we overheard from other crews “did you hear it rain?” I guess we must sleep pretty soundly, as neither of us had heard the overnight storms, but it had rained a ton overnight and never stopped raining all day for Fp1 & FP2. Being from the UK, Michael Laverty was in is natural element in the rain and finished 15th & 17th in MotoGP Free Practice 1 & 2, as our crew chief Phil, Victor and I spent the day dialing in electronics strategies and chassis settings for both bikes.

Rapid Solicitors Paul Bird Motorsports Michael Laverty, railing it in the rain in MotoGP FP2

Rapid Solicitors Paul Bird Motorsports Michael Laverty, railing it in the rain in MotoGP FP2

Saturday was dry and sunny, but because of the rain, we started off on a bad footing with our electronics strategies, which were optimized for the wet. Michael fell back to 19th in FP3, leaving us a lot to work on between sessions. By Fp4, the track had warmed up a bit, the ambient temperature was around 23º and the MacAdam was around 37º (73º & 98º F). Unfortunately, we didn’t have any data for a warmer track here, so we had to fly by the seat of our pants. Still Michael was able to significantly improve his times, dropping six-tenths of a second, moving up to 18th on the charts. Michael went out for MotoGP Qualifying session 1 and reeled off a few good laps before coming back in for fresh Bridgestones. He went back out and turned his best times yet, with a 1:35.589, nearly a second faster than FP4, putting him at 18th on the grid, on the inside of row 6 for the start of Sunday’s MotoGP race. Michael posted on facebook, “Real happy with how close I got to the customer Honda’s today, stayed ahead of 1 open Yamaha too, we will keep punching up tomorrow” and told Crash.net: “Points could be on the cards tomorrow and it would be nice to be fighting with them. This is as competitive as we’ve been this season.”

PBM Team's Michael Laverty, cornering low in a frustrating MotoGP race at San Marino

PBM Team’s Michael Laverty, cornering low in a frustrating MotoGP race at San Marino

The Sunday morning Warmup session didn’t start us off well, Michael Laverty was at the bottom of the sheets, in 23rd, with a 1:37.293.  We made a change for the morning warm-up and made the front a little bit softer and that hindered us a bit. For the MotoGP Race, though, Michael liked where he was sitting. He nailed the start and was doing really well until around the 5th lap, when his rear brake over heated. We don’t know if it was a problem with the electronics or what, but Michael had to rely on the rear brake even more than normal on corner entry to turn, as well as keep the front end down on exit. The rear brembo calipers rotors that we use are considerably smaller than what comes on a streetbike and once they over heated, it’s over for them. Michael eased off the rear braking for a few laps, but felt more comfortable with it and started using them again as he battled with Drive M7 Aspar Honda’s Leon Camier. “Under normal circumstances I think that I could have been able to catch and pass Leon but I just wasn’t able to ride the bike like I normally can.  It’s difficult when you’re fighting against the bike and not able to just throw it into the corners and it takes the fun out of it really” Michael Laverty told Crash.net after the race. In spite of a relatively decent, 17th place finish, Michael was frustrated, calling it “the worst race of my year, feeling wise.” The next race, in Spain at Motorland Aragon will bring additional challenges: the Avintia Blusens team is switching from Kawasaki superbike engines to Ducati Desmosedicci GP14 bikes with Open ECU Class Software. We’ve been able to beat Hector Barbera and Mike DeMiglio on a regular basis, but with our bikes only making 225-230 hp and the Open Class Ducati’s capable of up to 260 hp, PBM, the little team the could, will have our work cut out for us. I say “Bring it!” we like a good challenge!

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