Attack Suzuki GSX-R1000
Attack of the Killer Formula Xtreme Champion
Torrance, California, October 4, 2002 -- Wide-open throttle is another of those areas I always thought of as a black or white issue which, it turns out, really isn't. You either have the thing pinned or you don't, right? Now I'm no longer certain. If you give your wife's friend a hug/kiss which accidentally evolves into a lusty grope, without malice aforethought, have you committed adultery? Is Dr. Kevorkian a murderer? Is stealing bread a crime if you're starving?
'Cause I can get the throttle on the Formula Xtreme champion Attack Suzuki open enough on the straights to experience the kind of speed that makes that sizzling sound, which segues into the smooth rush airplanes get just after they pass through Mach 1--but mostly you feel like if you openthe throttle just one more nth of a degree of rotation, that extra little twist to the stop--you might run into a problem with physics you never knew existed. I have new respect for Chuck Yeager. I mean, I've highsided in a straight line on an XR100 in the mud; surely that can't happen on dry pavement? Listen to me, just put the footage of Jason Pridmore highsiding himself off this bike up the hill at Road Atlanta last season out of mind, and go ahead and roll it to the stop.
I, I can't. I'm afraid....
Attack main man Richard Stanboli knows why: "Yeah, there's about 20 more horsepower between 90 and 100 percent open. The throttle butterflies disrupt the airflow until they're all the way open."
Feels more like 50 more to me. Feels like somebody just attached a huge bungee cord to the nosecone.... then again, why open the throttle all the way when nearly-all-the-way is enough to suck up and blow past surprised Hayabusas on California Speedway's banking (and every other bike at the Fastrackriders day)? Oi, it's fun to ride at the track, and it's even more fun when you blow everybody's doors off--something I've never experienced before. I always thought it was more rider skill than bike. In this case, ain't no gray area; it's the bike. Period. Today, slightly detuned to keep me from injuring myself, Stanboli says we're making 190 horsepower and we weigh 372 pounds. With me on it, that's a horse for every 2.8 pounds--versus about 4 pounds on a stock GSX-R1000, and a stock GSX-R does not loiter. It's an alarming difference.
In fact, Pridmore's Suzuki was usually the second or third-fastest thing through the timing lights at AMA events all season long--often a mph or two slower than Nick Hayden's RC51 Honda, but still banging on the door of 190 at fast tracks like Brainerd.
According to Stanboli--who's been known in the past to weld Yamaha combustion chambers closed in order to move them to a different place entirely--the GSX-R1000 is an easy beast from which to extract 200 reliable horsepower. All that's in there, he says, are 2mm oversize pistons, a nice roadracing head massage, titanium rods, a balanced crank, and the standard charging system. Modified standard throttle bodies control the intake mixture--which Richard says he keeps "docile" to keep the temperature down. What is different is the bike's Motec engine control electronics--$22,000 worth--like the ones used in F1 automobiles--with more input and output channels than the Pet Psychic. As for factory exotica, most teams claim there isn't much of that going around in Formula Xtreme (but we don't believe the Honda guys when they say it). All Attack got all season from Hamamatsu, Stanboli says, was a close-ratio six-speed transmission. Okay, two of them; one for Jason's bike and one for Ben Spies's.
Which really just makes the FX championship that much sweeter.
"Let's put it this way," Stanboli says, "we're the only team competing for the championship without a tractor trailer. Our inhouse personnel is relatively small, our budget is probably a quarter of what they (Erion and EMGO Valvoline and Graves Yamaha, we think he means) have, if even that. We do have a really talented rider and we have a good engineering capability. What we lack in finances or support we make up for in talent.
"Yeah it feels good. We beat two full Honda efforts--Erion and Bruce Transportation are HRC efforts, and a full factory Yamaha effort--full R7 works chassis and parts, works swingarms... I'm very familiar with Yamahas and I know exactly what those guys were using--basically left- over Superbike stuff from the previous year, when Gobert was doing really good on the thing."
Stanboli would know. His R1-engined R7 was outlawed way back during the 2000 season, long before the AMA went ahead and let factory Yamaha use the R7 frame for the first half of 2002 (maybe they thought nobody would notice?).
Formula Xtreme's few-rules format was made for guys like Stanboli: Superbikes are too expensive and corporate, and you can't really do anything to Supersport bikes. In FX, though, if you want to chop up the frame and improve upon what Suzuki built, have at it. The Attack Suzuki's frame seems to have undergone radical surgery in the swingarm pivot area.
What have you done Richard?
"After Fontana we got a chance to view the bike and suspension data, and then again at Sears Point, it was even more prevalent, that there was a problem with the power delivery, and the suspension being able to handle all the torque, so after Sears Point we made the frame change... so we moved the swingarm pivot. I can't tell you where we moved it to, but we moved it so we'd be able to utilize the horsepower of the motorcyle. Now it's adjustable, 6mm up and down, 3mm forward and back... it took us a couple rounds to get it right. We got to Colorado and it was a piece of cake. We won that one. Road America we had some other issues with suspension but dialled that out and won that one too."