WSBK: Day Zero

Day Zero

Between rounds of the FIM Superbike World Championship Series series each team faces a massive logistics project – the transport, unloading, and reassembly of the bikes and the entire pit-garage – before the official first day of practice. Day Zero.

It’s a long day for the team unpacking and assembling bikes which are shipped disassembled in their component systems. Aprilia factory technicians install the swingarm on Max Biaggi’s 2012 championship-winning RSV4 Factory bike.

Each bike is largely built from the chassis up with motors and components unpacked from custom shipping containers designed to protect parts and tools.

Crew chiefs and lead technicians inspect the bike at every step. of preparation

Crew chiefs and lead technicians inspect at every step.

Kawaski Tech installs new pads in front caliper

Before the next morning’s practice session chassis consumables are refreshed: brake discs, brake pads, fluids, tires and tunable parts – shocks, springs, forks and internals, suspension bearings.

Troubleshooting EFI system in BMW garage

Between rounds some teams may be able to return to home base to sort issues that cropped up in the previous race weekend. Anything needing further attention is tackled as soon as the team arrives in the new venue. (BMW technicians inspect the internals of a fuel system using a simple point-and-shoot camera to photograph inside the tank.)

BMW techs put their heads together to examine photos taken inside the gas tank while troubleshooting an EFI system in BMW garage

Two truths persist in troubleshooting complex systems:
a) it’s usually the simple things;
b) two heads are better than one.

Fixi Crescent Suzuki Data Tech

Tools, old and new, are used to assemble the bike with a base-line set-up. If the team has prior history with a track and rider, they may have the advantage of starting with the settings from the previous year or sanctioned practice session. This includes setting the digital systems that acquire data from the bike’s many sensors and using that data to adjust both electronic controls and mechanical systems.

Aprilia Garage - installing new drive chain

Electronic systems are proliferating and evolving rapidly but mechanical systems are still the core of the racing machine. Chain length and tension are based on wheelbase and suspension settings for a particular track. One of the oldest specialized tools in the racing mechanic’s toolbox, essentially unchanged for more than a century, is the chain breaker and rivet tool.

Fixi Crescent Suzuki Garage with John Hopkins

Even when they’ve moved into the top classes of international competition, most crew members remember that (probably not too long ago) they were excited to work in a support-class racing team…

Rain falls in the tent-only pit area of the AMA Supersport  teams at Miller Motorsports Park

… where the accommodations had less to offer but the motivation for winning was just as strong.

Kawasaki Team Pedercini and rider David Salom

End of Day Zero. Having traveled 9,000 km (5,500 miles) from their base in Italy to Salt Lake City, Utah, Kawasaki Team Pedercini and rider David Salom have been setting up for the next day’s first practice for almost 12 hours straight. Time to call it a day.