MotoOnline.com.au joins Yamaha’s factory Lites effort for a day on track in Queensland.
Much of MotoOnline.com.au’s focus in 2011 has been on the Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals season, travelling to each and every race in a bid to expose the best in the sport from a variety of angles including films, photos, news and the traditional race reports.
It was for that very reason that our excitement levels reached new heights when Yamaha invited us to Queensland for a day directly following Raymond Terrace’s third round of the MX Nationals to test ride both the Serco Yoshimura Yamaha and GYTR Rockstar Yamaha team bikes.
Testing factory race bikes isn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary for media outlets in this day and age, however having the opportunity to ride real deal race bikes mid-season was a huge opportunity we just couldn’t pass up – an opportunity that has allowed us to showcase exactly how much effort goes in behind the scenes of the best teams in the country.
With that in mind, MotoOnline.com.au, along with Out Of Bounds Film Company guru Guy Streeter boarded a plane to Brisbane airport to greet Scotty Bishop at the airport, set for a big day of riding on the best YZ250Fs in the country.
This Friday we’re featuring the Serco Yamahas of Kirk Gibbs and Ford Dale, while next week we’ll take an in-depth insight into GYTR Rockstar Yamaha’s Under 19s development squad (plus keep an eye out for some films to be uploaded in the meantime!).
Queensland-based distributor Serco has been servicing the Australian motorcycle industry for over 30 years with engine and suspension components.
With a booming business that imports many of the best components in the game, Serco uses its factory Yamaha race time to test and promote the parts in the Pro Lites category of the Australian Motocross and Supercross Championships.
From top to bottom you can see Serco-distributed parts splashed upon the fleet of YZ250F race bikes, this year piloted in a three-man squad featuring Gibbs, Dale and team team’s very own 2007 MX Nationals Champion Jake Moss.
It’s a first class operation that’s headed by Serco owner Gavin Eales, one of the first to make use of a semi-trailer to transport the team’s equipment to races in Australia and also consistently gaining the on-track results to prove their might.
According to Serco Yoshimura Yamaha head technician Michael Marty, the company carries out development of the team’s race bikes in house at Serco utilising parts distributed and developed by them.
“Pretty much the whole lot is built at Serco – we don’t send out too much of the development at all,” he explained. “There are a lot of hours on the dyno, trying different stuff like different pipes, different pistons, different cams, different head designs, and stuff like that. There are hours and hours that go into it, it’s really never ending.
“We’ve got CP Pistons and Hotcams cam shafts, plus we run the Yoshimura exhausts. We run standard valves and that’s pretty much about it for the engine (see full spec list below).”
Promotion and testing plays a big part in Serco’s grand plan of running a mega dollar race program, and Marty said that almost the entire package contains Serco-related products.
“We use everything that we sell, and if we don’t sell it then that’s when we go looking to get the best that’s available out there,” he added. “The only things that we use that we don’t sell these days are RK Chains and Pirelli tyres.
“Everything else we sell at Serco, so we promote it and ride with it every day to test it out. If there’s a problem with it, we know about it, and that’s the whole idea of the race team.”
Development is vital in the current competitive environment that is witnessed in Aussie Motocross, the team working from experience amounted over the years and evolving the bikes’ performance from a racing standpoint constantly.
“We’re constantly ticking away at development,” Marty said. “The 2010 model was a big difference to the 2009, then the 2011 model isn’t much different to last year. We started with suspension that we used last year and we’ve come a long way since then. The motors probably haven’t come too far along, compared to what we had last year though.”
With a three-rider team in 2011 featuring current national number two and three plate holders Gibbs and Dale, as well as Jake Moss in his return from the U.S, Marty explained there are subtle differences in set-ups between the trio.
“There are a few differences,” he explained. “We started earlier in the year with Ford and he did the majority of our early testing, working on a lot of settings. We were out for heaps of days just trying different settings, so when Kirk started we found Ford’s settings were a little bit stiff, so he runs a little bit softer forks.
“When Jake came along he was a little bit after them all, and he didn’t really like any of the settings we’d had so we had to start again with him. Since then we’ve come up with some good settings for Jake and Ford actually likes that setting too. The shocks are all very similar, pretty much the exact same shock setting for all three riders.”
Moss is currently rebounding from a shoulder injury sustained in Germany before the season commenced, derailing his hopes for a title upon return to the team for the first time since he won the Lites title in 2007. Still, his experience counts when it comes to developing the race bikes.
“Jake definitely demands that he wants the best,” Marty continued. “He’s ridden for some of the best teams in the world in America, so he definitely brings a lot of experience to the team. When he tests, he knows what he wants, so we have to try getting it for him. At the moment he’s pretty happy so I think we’ve got it dialled in.”
With both Gibbs and Dale’s bikes on hand for our test, the big surprise for me was the rideability of them. They’re not intimidating in any way and invite you to give them everything you’ve got.
Needless to say, what I’ve got to give isn’t anywhere near the punishment that the factory guys have up their sleeves, however the reaction of the Serco Yoshimura Yamaha YZ250F was impressive at all times.
Most noticeably at the private complex we were testing at was a straight out of a second gear corner where you’d reach fourth, and the stability was incredible compared to a standard model we also had on hand.
You could hit bumps of any angle with confidence that the rear shock would absorb it, plus the forks offered plenty of front-end feel whether it was on a flat turn or in a series of sweet ruts that formed during the test.
Even though my speed is no match for the regulars, the suspension wasn’t overly stiff compared to some race bikes I’d been luck enough to ride in the past, and that was definitely confidence inspiring for me despite a lengthy gap between motos for me in the lead-up to the outing.
The engine power was also an impressive step forward. The throttle response and carburetion was on point, enabling the power the kick in with the slightest twist of the throttle. From there it’s basically stronger and even smoother than the stocker all the way through the range. It’s impressive, but certainly takes a pro rider in order to make the most of its gains.
In his third season with the Serco team, South Australian rider Gibbs enjoys working with the team and has moved to Queensland to make the most of his relationship with the team. With his experience increasing, Gibbs is putting more and more time into development.
“When I first got onto the Serco team, because I was a bit younger and didn’t really know what to do, I was pretty basic with my set-up and how it all worked,” Gibbs said. “Over the last three years Michael and I, plus the rest of the team, have been working well together and give each other good feedback. We work off each other and the bikes have definitely gotten better and better every year.
“Last year was good and the new bike was a big improvement for me. We were able to develop them and get the set-up to where I wanted it. Finishing second in the championship behind PJ [Larsen] was good even though we always try to win, so we’ll keep working hard.”
As for what Gibbs looks for in his ride, he says he’s pretty easygoing once the base setting is in the ballpark.
“It’s pretty straightforward for me – as long as it handles good then I’m happy,” he added. “I don’t mind it kicking around up and down, as long as it’s not going side to side because that’s where you mostly come unstuck.
“My forks are pretty stiff and the shock is reasonably soft – a fair bit softer than my forks. It suits most of the tracks, but I’ll probably go a bit harder for the loamier tracks like Coolum and Murray Bridge. It’s what we’ve come up with and for sure it suits my style.”
Teammate Dale carried out much of the team’s early development for season 2011 as both Gibbs and Moss were forced to take time out through injury, and it’s something that he enjoyed working so closely alongside Marty and the devlopment team.
“It was pretty good this year because I had to start the testing,” Queensland resident Dale explained. “Gibbsy was injured and so was Jake, so nobody else could do it. Marty’s pretty good with it, he usually comes up with a good setting and we work from there. After that we just keep building, getting it better and better to make it so it’s exactly what I like.
“We keep trying new things as well. I’ll get to a point where I think it’s pretty good, but then he’ll come up with something else and we can work from there to improve again.”
Dale also explained that while testing is important during the pre-season, the demands of the national tracks and the fact that his speed increases as the season progresses means that they’re looking for further improvements just a few rounds into the year.
“At first I loved the suspension, it was really good,” he reflected. “But as the season progresses I guess you probably get quicker and now that we have had three rounds, I’m going to start testing to stiffen it up a little bit. Obviously my corner speed might be a little faster because the front is diving a little bit. While we have the break I might as well test and try to improve it again.”
While for your average non-racer like myself the Serco Yoshimura Yamaha YZ250F is a great opportunity, there’s no doubting that it’s the riders who make the big difference when it comes to extracting the most out of the model.
What we can fully appreciate is the finish of the rides as everything is refined, adjusted to perfection and has everything you’d expect a factory-backed bike would feature. Simply getting a chance to swing a leg over the bikes we admire on every given race weekend makes this one a test we won’t be forgetting any time soon right here on MotoOnline.com.au.
So far in 2011 Gibbs sits second behind runaway title leader Matt Moss in the Pro Lites standings of the MX Nationals Championship with a second place finish at Appin.
Meanwhile, Dale is 10th with his highlight being a moto victory at Broadford, plus the fact the he has qualified first at two out of the three rounds run to date.
For further information on Serco and the Serco Yoshimura Yamaha race team, visit them on the web at www.serco.com.au.
Serco Yoshimura Yamaha YZ250F Specification Sheet
Cylinder Head: Standard – Serco ported to race spec
Piston: CP High compression
Cams: Hotcams (inlet and exhaust)
Carburettor: Standard with Dynojet jet kit/R&D bowl
Clutch: Hinson basket/ hub and pressure plate
Airfilter: No Toil
Fork: Factory Connection/Serco revalved
Shock: Factory Connection/Serco revalved
Triple Clamps: Pro Taper
Handlebars: Pro Taper
Grips: Pro Taper
Gearing: 13/51 Pro Taper sprockets
Front brake: GYTR 270mm
Rear brake: Standard
Seat Cover: Factory Effex
Engine covers: SPP
Skid plate: Lightspeed
Serco; Yamaha; Yoshimura; Answer; SPP; Pro Taper; 661; Pirelli; CP Pistons; Hotcams; Sunline; RK Chains; No Toil; Hinson; GYTR; Torco; Factory Connection; Pivot Works; Dynojet; Factory Effex; Cometic