Stobart get busy

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Stobart Honda have had a busy Christmas preparing their bikes for the most extensive winter pre-season testing programme the team has ever undertaken.

The work follows the initial shakedown test at Cartagena recently when Shane Byrne and Tom Sykes got their first chance to ride the Hondas.

Technical director Phil Borley said: “It was interesting how Shakey took a different view to some of the things Michael Rutter wanted in 2006.

“Probably the biggest difference was in the slipper clutches.

“Michael wanted to try an HRC clutch but Shakey saw no benefit in it so we’ll be continuing to use STM clutches. We’ve worked closely with STM for several years now and will continue our development programme with them.”

According to Shakey, the major difference between the Rizla Suzuki he raced in 2006 and the Stobart Honda is in the way the bikes make their power.

Borley said: “Shakey reckons the bottom end is a lot stronger with our Honda – almost too strong.

“That was interesting for us because when Jonathan Rea rode out bike at Bishopscourt he said he felt the power delivery was similar to his factory bike.

“We had already knocked the edge off the power during the season. I guess we’ll need to knock even more off it to make it more rider friendly.

“It’s okay right now for one or two fast laps but to ride it fast consistently is just hard work.

“We’re talking about getting it smoother off the bottom end in the 10-15 per cent throttle opening range.

“We have new electronics software to come to give us more options. ”

The other changes are to get Shakey comfortable on the bike.

Borley said: “We’re going to scallop the tank a little more and make some minor changes to the controls, just so Shakey feels more like he’s part of the bike. Interestingly, all of the stuff Shakey commented on, Tom agreed with.”

Stobart Honda restart their testing programme at the end of January in Spain.

Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin