Moto GP: Yas Motorcycle Racing Team ‘triumphant’ in Qatar MotoGP support race for QMMF
Yas Marina Circuit-sponsored Sportbike riders Mahmoud Tannir and Alan Boyter pulled off a remarkable double win and second place in the 600cc class of the National Superbike races at the MotoGP event in Qatar this weekend. Mahmoud won both races and Alan came second in class, in the process defeating several 1,000cc bikes with around 60 bhp more on tap. This is Alans story of how it all went.
Boyter Blog – Day 1
Well Race Fans,as some of you may be aware YAS Motorcycle Racing Team have travelled to Qatar to compete in the Moto GP support race held on the 18th of March 2011. Mahmoud Tannir (Moody) and myself early doors on Wednesday morning with Aldrin Samuel from Probikes Dubai to give us his mechanical support. Both bikes passed scruteneering with no issues, and were cleaned down from the long dusty drive from the UAE, ready for some track action, Qatar style.
Practice day. Thurs 17th Mar 2011
The morning started with a comprehensive briefing telling us about various flags, extra marshal posts and the additional protocol required as a support race to the Moto GP circus. The couple of hours between that and the first practice, was nerve racking! We’d been hearing lots of stories about the track being quite hard to learn due to lack of reference points and near flat elevation, so we were intensely studying the circuit map and replaying a fast paced onboard video from youtube…every little helps!
Eventually we were let out and we had to drive the entire length of the Losail Pitlane before getting on track, which was a sensory over load! you try to focus on being out, the track, the start finish line etc and yet only 20ft from your right are all your hero’s sitting in their pit bays with all their exotic 125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP machines, awesome!
Out we went and the first 3-4 sighting laps were purely learning where you are on track. Actually being on track is totally different to watching video’s, and it takes a while for you to learn what corner is what in real time. We both got quicker as the 20min session progressed but I found that when I pushed a bit harder I misread some corners and ended up running of track. Thankfully Losail has a forgiving 8ft section of astroturf on the track edge followed by a goof lick of tarmac before kitty litter so you can correct any mistakes you have without binning it. The 20 minutes went real quick and I felt that I still had loads to learn…qualifying next.
There was an 8 hour gap between practice in the afternoon and qualifying under the floodlights late in the evening so we spent the time changing onto slick tyres, mooching around the MotoGP paddock and generally taking in the great atmosphere. The Triumphs were attracting the usual attention (lets face it, they look great) but there was one guy looking round them that we recognized, non other than ex 500cc works racer and 3 times British Superbike Champion Niall Mackenzie! His son races in the 125 class so he was doing what we had been doing, just mooching round looking at everything else, we chatted for a while and asked for his picture and he asked for ours, top bloke!
Qualifying under floodlights eventually came and we both felt the ‘I have no idea where im going’ nerves from earlier but after a couple of laps it started to come together and over the 30 minute session the times dropped and dropped. With 16 bikes on the grid, all 1000cc’s apart from our 2 and Osman’s R6, Moody qualified in 11th place with a 2:17.5 and I qualified 13th with a 2:20.9. There’s a lot more to come and we have another 30min warm up before both races to find more time.
We were concerned that the races are 15 laps, 80kms long that could take over 40 mins but luckily Losail isn’t as demanding on the Autodrome and we’re confident that the longer race shouldn’t be an issue.
Race Day. Friday 18th
Something we have failed to mention is that since we’ve been here its been cold and windy! seriously, its more similar to UK weather and as we drove to the track it started raining !…Just what you need for racing on slicks! fortunately it didn’t last but the extreme wind and cold did.
Before the race we had a 20 minute warm up, another 20 minutes to learn as much as we can. There really isn’t anything else other than track time to improve how you go and as I mentioned previously its not too much of a demanding track on the body so staying out for the duration and finding as many reference points as possible is key. We both posted a time of 2:19.6 (0.008s gap between us) which is another improvement for me and the time that I had aimed for before coming here this weekend, result! lets race.
Race 1- Boyter
My start was quite good but the bigger 1000cc BMW’s that qualified behind us had beaten both Moody and myself to turn 1, luckily it didn’t take long for us both to get passed them and we started to chase down the 10th place man on a fire blade. I had managed to get in front of Moody and by lap 7 I was sitting on the back tyre of the number 8 bike (Fireblade) with Moody right behind me. I tucked in as close as possible on the last turn to get a tow down the straight, what I didn’t realise that my team mate had done the exact same thing to me!, we both caught up to the bigger Honda on the brakes but Moody had managed to get the inside line into turn 1 and slotted himself in front of the blade. I just wasn’t close enough and had to wait to turn 6 to get up the inside of the blade and chase down my team mate.
I had gained some distance again and I knew our times were a lot faster than either of us had done before but on lap 10, I lost grip slightly into turn 14 which is a very fast turn. There was not much room or time to correct my mistake so I had no choice but to pick the bike up, run off the track and brake as hard as possible. In a split second I went upright and braked hard, then released as I ran over the short section of astroturf then back onto tarmac and braked hard again, hoping to stop before the gravel trap. With the back wheel in the air from the braking force, I realised that I wasn’t going to stop in time so I released the brakes at the last minute and went off-road. I tried to get the bike under control, and turn it, in very deep gravel and head back towards the track, as I did I saw the number 8 bike pass me, which was quite disheartening.
Back on track I pushed hard to try and catch up but after 2 laps I lost the front going into turn 9, luckily I managed to catch it but the signs were there, with nobody in sight I eased back for the remaining 3 laps and finished the race. As it happens the number 8 bike crashed out hence I was never catching up with it! with a 2nd in class and 10th overall I was happy.
After the race I was thinking that both my issues could be brake related as they felt like they had faded or just felt funny. Upon further investigation, I had found tyre rubber smeared over the lever which was causing the lever to stick to the finger of my gloves this also caused the adjuster to move thinking I had fading brakes. Live and learn!
Race 1- Moody
Well, after only 20min of practice and another 30min of qualifying we had a good feeling and understanding of the track, even though it was our 1st time racing here! My lap time of 2′.17.5 from the qualifying practice was good enough to start with, but if I hit 2.15s Id be very impressed as we were up against bigger bikes with many riders racing here for years!
Off we go! and I managed to pull an unwanted wheelie down the start, outch…waste of time! I realised later that the rear tire section of 19.5 and having full slicks had a some impact on the grip at the back wheel, anyhow, back to earth again and time to chase the pack as Alan managed to get passed me from the start. I had a good rhythm for a few laps trying to keep everyone in sight and to understand more what the front tire is doing with a new slick!
I kept pushing until I reached my team mate who was really going fast for the 1st 7 laps! then on the last turn I was inches from his tail and managed to slip stream him and to overbrake the honda1000 by turn one. From there I put my head down and tried to finish a clean race, there was no way to catch up with the front bigger liter bikes so I just took the bike home for our class win and 9th overall. our lap times showed a 2’16, that was an improvement.
Race 2, Boyter- Sat 19th
My first night race! its weird starting a race after 10:00pm at night but the floodlights are amazing, it truly is like daylight. I got an OK start, following my team mate into turn 1 and for the first lap we seemed to be keeping up if not catching a 1000cc BMW. Unfortunately I made a couple of small mistakes and fell back slightly, I tried to keep up with Moody and the Beemer but the pace was just too fast. I ran the remainder of the race by myself but keeping my position in 10th. As it turned out the Beemer was too quick for Moody too but he had made a valiant effort.
Overall it was a fantastic result as a lot of the bikes we were competing against have 60hp more and are 40kms faster down the straight. The atmosphere was amazing and it was such a great opportunity to race at the same event as the MotoGP. We would like to give a special thanks to Nasser Khalifa Al Attiyah and the QMMF to allow us to come over and race.
Race 2- Moody
Night time and off we go to a better start this time, I was close to the front runners for a few laps but the shear power of the 1000ccs bikes down the strait and Losail’s long corners were too much to compete with, but I had a good battle with one of the BMW RRs who wasn’t really fast enough in corner speed but each time I overtook him, down the strait I see him past me like hitting a turbo booster! I was anxious to see how would I feel after 15 long laps of this flowing and fast circuit but I managed to keep my strength as the track makes you work hard but there isn’t too much braking so its less physically tiring that of the Autodrome’s.
Managed to finish 1st again in my class and 9th again overall just after the beamer. But I was really happy to check my time of 2’15.2…. that was a fantastic result I think given we are here for the 1st time with new tires and on 600cc bikes.
What can I say, It was one of the most rewarding race weekends I ever had :)), going down the pitlane with the MotoGP gods in there paddocks was beyond belief and the atmosphere was just awesome. I will surely do it again!
I’d like to thank our sponsor YAS Marina Circuit who has giving us a big support for this race weekend as always and I hope to do the same race here at YAS sometime in the future. A big thank you goes for Mr. Nasser Khalifa Al Attiya for giving us this opportunity and for the QMMF and Losail circuit for their help.