Rockstar Makita Suzuki Completes Test at Chuckwalla

Henny Ray Abrams | February 17, 2011

“How ‘bout them Packers?” Blake Young asked.The Wisconsinite and Green Bay Packers season ticket-holder was ready to fly to Dallas from California to watch his beloved Packers play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl when his day job got in the way. Young and Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate Tommy Hayden had a one-day test at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway last week and the logistics of traveling back and forth to Chino didn’t work. Instead, Young had to be satisfied with watching the Packers beat the Steelers on television having gotten in a full day’s testing in the desert. This week the Yoshimura Suzuki team was back at Chuckwalla, originally for two days before gusting winds forced an early shutdown on the second day.Even so, the test was the most productive of the pre-season, with both previous tests at Daytona International Speedway hampered by weather. Plus, Chuckwalla is a proper road course, where what’s learned can be put to use at most tracks, while most anything learned at Daytona can only be used at Daytona.”The first day went pretty well,” Young said. “Started about nine in the morning and ended about 4:30ish. And, yeah, got a lot done. Tested a few parts. I really enjoy that track. I think it’s a pretty good testing track for sure.”We got out there (Wednesday). It seemed like it was shaping up to be a nicer day than (Tuesday) and all of a sudden the wind started rolling in pretty bad, started kicking up some dust and some sand was blowing on the track really, really hard. Coming out of some of the turns the wind would really push you hard and almost push you off the track, and it was big gusts of wind, so it was pretty unpredictable. It just felt like we weren’t going to get much done testing out there.”We got a lot done (Tuesday) testing. You know, just testing new parts, different ideas. Really, getting up to speed on the bikes. Tried getting up to speed on the bikes at Daytona, didn’t really have much luck, obviously the weather. So I think it was good to get out on the bikes rolling around before Daytona.”Young had never been to Chuckwalla, which is about an hour east of Palm Springs in Desert Center, California. He found it to be a “pretty good test facility because of all the various turns that it has. I think it makes it where it could be a good testing facility.”Chuckwalla is a much more physically demanding track than Daytona, Young said. Of the tracks on the AMA schedule it most resembles Miller Motorsports Park. It’s also a very safe track, with plenty of run-off.”As far as learning things specifically for Daytona, the biggest thing was just getting on a motorcycle and getting some laps in and being able to get on a bike, really, I mean,” he said. “The last time I’ve really been on one was September, the last round, last year. Both Daytona tests, realistically, we only really got one good day out of those four days testing, including the December and this last test that we had. So I think it was pretty good.”Peter Doyle, Young’s crew chief and the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team manager, said that “in two days there we achieved way more than the four days at Daytona, just purely because we got some quality track time. Okay, we didn’t have our opposition to gauge ourselves, but we do know that Yamaha have been to Chuckwalla, and they were there last week, as well. They turned up the day after us. So there was a gauge on lap times.”With development work ongoing on the Suzuki GSX-R1000, the Chuckwalla test gave the team a chance to gauge the effectiveness of their off-season work.”The engine, we’re trying to lift the performance of the engines and we had some different cylinder head porting that we’ve been working with,” Doyle said. “And electronics, we’re always trying to get riders more comfortable, personalize the electronics. And suspension, ongoing work with suspension. Never ends. And we keep the riders riding. So we just had to get some track time, but it all went fairly good for us.”Dunlop also shipped some new tires, which Doyle believes will be put on the allocation sheet later this year.”They worked reasonably well,” he said. “No huge complaints with those, so I think they’ll be okay when they introduce them.”Young pointed out that the Packers’ championship was but one of a recent string of successes for the state of Wisconsin. First was the University of Wisconsin’s appearance in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. (They lost to 21-19 to TCU.) Then came the Super Bowl win. And just last week Wisconsin’s men’s basketball team ended Ohio State’s unbeaten season with a 71-67 upset.  “Now it’s time for Blake Young to win the AMA Superbike Championship,” Young said.


Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.