Master Bike 2000, part 2

Master Bike 2000, part 2

On your marks

The countdown is running. Seventeen top-class super athletes compete on the demanding Grand Prix circuit of Jerez ?? and only one can win.

Stopwatch, stopwatch in hand, who’s the fastest in the whole country? The third edition of the Master Bike will also be held under this motto. It’s primarily about lap times, the performance of individual machines and concepts. 600 or big bike, two or four cylinders?
A short review of what has happened so far: The winners have already been determined in the open class and the superbikes (MOTORRAD 10/2000). Above all, the cars in the open class delivered an exciting race from which Yamaha’s R1 emerged as a worthy winner. Not only was she able to record the fastest lap with 1.56.66 minutes, goal also six of the nine pilots achieved her best time in the Big Bikes. The result in the Superbikes is even more impressive: Newcomer Suzuki GSX-R 750 took the class and day win with a sensational 1.55.69 minutes. And all the drivers turned their fastest lap in the Superbikes on the Suzuki ?? This feat has not yet been achieved by any machine and it shows the incredible potential of the four-cylinder concept.
New day New luck. And above all blue skies and consistently good conditions. Now it’s getting serious for the big and superbikes. Because the agile super athletes enter the arena. Light, agile and fast, do you have a good chance at Jerez of a surprise win? Due to the few straights, which are a maximum of 600 meters long, the route does not require brute power, but rather high cornering speed, a strength of the super sports class. There is a new edition of the big supersport test from MOTORRAD 9/2000. With one small difference: The Ducati importer is not bringing the standard 748 to Jerez as planned, but the expensive R model.
The exclusive version opens the dance. And she dances well, very well in fact. Benefit from this excellent chassis, which is even a tad superior to that of the 996 Biposto. Extremely stable, the 748 R allows early and hard acceleration, especially in the fast corners. The V2’s gentle, but extremely powerful thrust also contributes to an incredibly safe driving experience at the limit. The only losses are the Brembo stoppers: In terms of effectiveness and controllability, they don’t quite come close to the top Japanese systems from Kawasaki or Honda. Nevertheless, MOTORRAD tester Markus Barth manages to beat the entire big bike and superbike competition with the exception of the Suzuki GSX-R 750 with a time of 1.56.84 minutes.
Number two, the Kawasaki ZX-6R, seems a bit nervous at first because of its much more manageable chassis compared to the Ducati. The ZX-6R can be turned effortlessly and without the slightest expenditure of force, naturally takes the tightest radius and immediately fires out of the corners with the whole temperament of the unleashed high-revving four-cylinder. The fact that the tuning of the spring elements is a bit too soft ensures slight rocking and stirring movements in the fast corner passages, but their sensitive response always gives a good feeling. Even if the Michelin Pilot Sport are pushed to the limit of their prison limit. And then these brakes. Undoubtedly the best thing here. Super snappy and yet sensationally finely dosed. Small blemish: on lap three, the pressure point moves slightly to the handlebars without the system losing any of its effectiveness. It’s a shame that with 1:57:30 minutes it is enough for a blazing fast lap, but not for the final.
Motivated by the strong performance of the Kawasaki, Honda’s CBR 600 F is also hoping for a top spot. After all, she has similar talents to the Greens. Super handling, precise turning and an engine that goes to work much more enthusiastically than in the 600 series comparison test in MOTORRAD 9/2000. The brakes also come close to those of the Kawasaki. But there is nothing to be done, the CBR loses half a second to the ZX-6R with 1.57.84 minutes. Mainly due to its inadequate stability: The CBR lurches and stirs over the undulating course like no other, pumping at the rear when accelerating and buckling at the front when braking. The amazing thing about it: This life of its own gives the drivers fun. Because even if it looks quite adventurous and frightening from the outside, the pilots never perceive it as threatening. The CBR has something of a good-natured ?? of course, as fast as an arrow, unsinkable fishing trawler that can calmly face any storm in the world.
The Suzuki GSX-R 600 takes the slopes tighter, but not quite as lightly. It looks bigger than its four-cylinder counterparts. The tank is bulkier, the paneling is more expansive, the bench seat is more bulky. But it has a well-tuned, very responsive fork, a decent brake system, albeit a bit waning after a few laps, and an engine that gives a clean, but unspectacular performance over a wide speed range. But the transmission is a force. Unfortunately, the individual courses in Jerez don’t fit very well: they are either a tad too long or too short. The fact that the GSX-R 600 only occupies the penultimate place at the dead speed on the back straight is as sobering as the lap time. At 1.58.65 minutes, it is even a tenth slower than the clumsy Hayabusa.
The Triumph TT 600 is four hundredths slower than the GSX R and has much more serious problems. Before colleague Barth really gets going, the spook is over again. The engine blows oil in all corners. Due to the unscheduled pit stop, Markus missed the rest of his turn and the triumph the chance of a better lap time. The attempt at a quick repair by the Triumph mechanics present fails; no lap can be timed at the turn of the author. Only with a replacement motorcycle can the TT 600 get back into action. But not even the lightning-fast Spaniard Fernando Cristobal manages to improve Markus’s time. All drivers agree on the assessment. The engine is tuned for sufficient peak performance, but it lacks pressure in the lower and middle speed range. The chassis consistently received decent marks on the level of the Japanese competition, as did the braking system. Snappy, neatly dosed and sufficiently stable, it always has the 206 British kilograms under control.
For the Ducati 748 R, it’s getting exciting again. Yamaha’s R6 has proven several times that it is a comparatively uncompromising racetrack motorcycle. And it really goes to great lengths, impressed with the best handling properties without noticeably lacking stability in the fast corners, turns on the desired line, maintains a tight radius, unlike most machines, even when accelerating from the apex. The sheer endless revving and the power of the four-cylinder engine ensure acceleration and top speed that are just as good as those of the Ducati, and the wide rev range offers the necessary leeway between the closely spaced curves. You never have the feeling that a course is translated too long or too short. Only the noise in the control center is a disaster. There is hammering and cracking in the gears that makes one fear and worry about the little cogs.
Not scary but disappointing is the performance of the Yamaha stoppers. Even more clearly than in the last comparison test, they lag behind the competition in terms of effectiveness and controllability. They offer too little feedback and are a bit doughy at the pressure point. Especially when braking in an inclined position, the driver is unclear how far he is from the limit. And yet, the R6 flies around the course in a sensational 1.56.80 minutes, takes a hair’s breadth in front of the professional 748 R and thus makes it into the final as a representative of its class.
But before it comes to the final showdown, two more machines should prove their skills: Aprilia mille R and Ducatis 996 SPS. The two machines in the reference class show whether the sportier laurel automatically increases with more money. The example of the Yamaha R7 shows that not everything can be done with money alone. Despite the best efforts of the Spanish and Italian colleagues, no machine could be found for the mega-test that was only close to being in series production. And since MV also canceled participation in this event at short notice, the small but fine delegation of the two-cylinder units has to hold up the flag of the "exclusives".
Which in the case of the Aprilia does not succeed particularly convincingly. Like the normal Mille, the R is extremely allergic to the choice of drawn. Although it comes with a 180 mm Pirelli tire as standard and has delivered absolutely convincing results so far, the R does not get along at all with the Michelin of the same size. Unstable in the fast passages and with little grip on the rear wheel when accelerating, there is little joy. Neither the lively, powerful engine nor the sensitive, responsive spring elements are of any use. Also the braking system? not quite as toxic as the one last tested by MOTORRAD ?? hardly gives cause for complaint. With a lead of around 1.7 seconds, it beats the basic Mille and, a little closer, the almost equally expensive Honda VTR 1000 SP-1, but a Ducati SPS is hardly to be impressed with it.
She uses her advantage mercilessly. The Michelin Pilot Sport seems to be made for you, builds up excellent grip, drives neutral and precisely and harmonizes perfectly with the incredibly tightly tuned chassis. The first steering impulse when aiming at the curves requires a lot of force, once in an inclined position, the PLC lies like a board. Even on the most undulating sections of the route, not the slightest disturbance spoils the line. In addition, this engine, which already pushes vehemently from the speed cellar and maintains its very gentle characteristics up to the speed limiter. In addition, the Ducati mechanics have finally found the same brake pads that Aprilia uses in their Brembos. Almost identical in effect and dosage, this time there was hardly any criticism from the test drivers at the SPS. So it’s no wonder that the 996 can clearly hold its own against the Mille R with 1.55.82 minutes. Nevertheless, the cheers from the Ducati camp are kept within limits, the Suzuki GSX-R 750 is still 1.3 tenths missing. In sport, something like this is called a painful defeat.
As a small consolation, the Ducati is allowed to move into the final, even if it is taking part in this competition out of competition. However, this is delayed a lot, because it takes longer than expected until all the arithmetic work of the professional timekeeping team hired specifically for this event is done. Not only the fastest lap times of the 17 machines are calculated, but also the lap average of each model, the number of the fastest lap within the group and so on. In addition, the four fastest drivers on these two days will be determined for the final.
The sun is already quite low when Augusto Moreno de Carlos, editor-in-chief of the Spanish magazine MOTOCICLISMO, announced the result: R6, GSX-R 750, R1, 996 SPS, Barth, Cristobal, Lindner and Coutelle. So let’s go before it gets dark. Four timed laps without warming up, without a break in between, starting every 15 seconds so that there are no overtaking maneuvers.
This is pure stress. Each driver has already covered two Grand Prix distances, photo sessions, alone and in a group, lunch was limited to a sandwich due to time constraints. And now again a good 20 rounds full bottle. If that goes well. Augusto doesn’t seem to trust the thing either. “It’s not a race, it’s only a test,” he admonishes the finalists one last time. And is heard. No fall in the finals either, although the conditions are not easy. Due to the lack of breaks, the tires heat up unusually strong and react with drastically reduced grip. And the sun is already so low that it is extremely dazzling in some corners. That explains why only the Suzuki managed exactly the same time as in qualification with a 1.55, 69 lap. Both the Yamaha R1 with 1.57.33 and the R6 with an impressive 1.57.40 as well as the reference in the form of the D.ucati 996 SPS with 1.56.08 minutes are a little below their potential due to the more difficult conditions. Which, however, cannot influence the overall result. Because in the Suzuki GSX-R 750 this year’s master bike spectacle finds a more than worthy winner. She not only records the absolute fastest time for herself, but also in the final all drivers set their personal best with her. This is impressive evidence of the performance and the safe, easy handling of the 750 series. Even tea present representatives of the competition slipped one or the other praise from the lips.

Conclusion: great sports

The super athletes have never fought as bravely as here in Jerez. You can benefit from its high cornering speed as well as from its simple and safe handling. Even chassis designed for comfort have less of a negative effect than expected on the fluid, but not excessively fast course. Even the adventurously rocking Honda CBR 600 burns amazingly good times into the asphalt. The engines also play an important role here. More important than pure peak performance are a wide performance range and even performance. The Ducati and the Yamaha in particular are superior to the field in this discipline. Despite the significantly lower top speed values ​​on the back straight, the nimble super athletes manage to make a long nose for some established big bikes. Only Triumph can hardly be satisfied with the presentation of the new TT 600. In addition to the only technical defect, the English 600 fell behind the competition due to weaknesses in the engine setup.

Conclusion: reference class

Started out of competition, but watched with the utmost tension and skepticism. Does money really make fast, and does a lot of money make a lot faster? Not quite. Both Aprilia mille R and Ducati 996 SPS can clearly put their lower-priced sisters in their place, but the two did not really convince them. The Aprilia was undoubtedly the victim of the short-term switch of the Michelin people from Pilot Race to Pilot Sport. By far the most expensive bike in the test, the 996 SPS, had to admit defeat to a concept that had long been believed to be inferior, a 750 four-cylinder in the form of the Suzuki GSX-R 750. It’s just a good thing that the flair of exclusivity is not so easy to steal from the two reference bikes.

Conclusion: final

As with the last Master Bike, in Jerez it is again the uncompromising machines that make it into the finals. Yamaha’s R6 even had to assert itself against the Ducati 748 R. Admittedly, it wasn’t entirely fair for Ducati to simply roll out the expensive R version instead of the two-seater ordered, but it didn’t help. And the R6 almost grabbed the R1, which is vastly superior in terms of performance. But what is all the haggling over hundredths of a second when the superiority of a Suzuki GSX-R 750 can be expressed in seconds. She emerges from this master bike event as a radiant and worthy winner. The GSX-R 750 did not have to rely on fortunate circumstances when choosing a tire or on a single best time from an ambitious pilot. well done.

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