Following the announcement that the postponed 2020 Bennetts British Superbike championship will get underway in August, the team have been busy putting plans in place to return to the track at Donington Park next month.
As team prepare to roar into action once again, we caught up with Technical Director and crew chief to Tarran Mackenzie, Chris Anderson, to discuss testing, the season ahead and more.
How has the ‘lockdown’ affected plans for 2020 as a team?
It’s been frustrating for us because we’ve had the strongest pre-season as a team that we’ve ever had, both riders were fit and both riders were fast. This, with the changes to the new R1, was making everything look positive so to have to put the hand brake on was frustrating.
It’s nice now that we have a date to go racing, albeit a six-round championship, but three races for each round and no back-to-back races means we get a lot of action.
MSV has done a mega job getting the calendar sorted.
Have you been able to continue development on the 2020 R1 during lockdown despite not being able to turn a wheel?
Yes, I live a long way from the workshop so with the original rules set by the Government we couldn’t get in the workshop, but once the restrictions changed to allow people back to work if you couldn’t work from home we were straight back in and have been for a few months and still have lots of work to do.
We’re making really good progress and even this week we’ve found a few extra horsepower on the dyno.
What’s the main difference between last year’s model and the new R1?
Chassis wise, the 2020 bike is the same. The biggest change for the new-spec R1 is the engine. The crankshaft is better supported, the oil pump is different, and they’ve altered the fuel-injection systems. Everything that they’ve done has helped improve our weaker points to make us stronger.
With the crank being more supported it means we can rev the engine more and that helps with controlling and reducing the wheelie coming out of corners.
Effectively they’ve turned the engine into a bit more of a screamer so we can use more revs and not as much torque.
We also have a different aerodynamics package, the new YZF-R1 features scoops and a little winglet to help tackle the wheelie issue and this was proven in testing.
When you return to testing, are you continuing where you left off in Almeria or will you have a fresh test plan?
We have some things that we didn’t get time to test. We have three tests planned, including the official BSB test in July, so we have a lot of time to try things.
We have different airbox internals, some different fork externals and another suspension link to try so the boys will have to pull their socks up and get some work done!
Does testing at circuits that aren’t on the 2020 calendar change any of those test plans? (The team are testing at Knockhill and Croft)
The first test we’re having is at Knockhill, so if the weather’s nice it will be a good test.
The circuit has a bit of everything, heavy braking, slow corners with hard acceleration to further test the wheelie improvements on the new R1, as well as the quick change of directions.
The beauty of Knockhill is, the lap is short. This means we can ultimately do what we need to do, and that’s to get loads of track time.
What are your thoughts all races being triple headers and does the shortened calendar work to your advantage?
For the Yamaha and Tarran especially, the tracks selected for the season are circuits that the R1 goes well at. Brands, Donington and Silverstone are all circuits that we go well at.
For Taz, the more physical tracks have been removed, Oulton’s a physical track but we’re only visiting that once. So, fingers crossed we can get the best out of it.
What are your expectations going into the season?
To win it! That’s it. That’s why we’re doing it.
Who do you think will be your biggest threat in 2020?
For us, it will be the two Ducatis. Josh Brookes and Tommy Bridewell. They’re on the same bike as last year, the same team as last year. They’ve had a few little developments come their way over winter, so they’re in a similar position to us. Effectively, we’re picking up where we left off!
The McAMS Yamaha team will kick off their preparations at the start of July with a test at Knockhill before visiting Croft and Donington Park in late July to complete the test schedule.
The season officially begins at Donington National on August 7/8/9th. The full calendar, as well as the 2020 McAMS Yamaha livery, can be found here.