The tight and twisty nature of Sachsenring lends itself to close racing. This is partially influenced by its rather short overall length - only just scraping in on the minimum allowed distance to host a MotoGP race - while the looping layout itself has the reputation of making passing moves on fellow competitors difficult even at the best of times.

The design of the circuit, with virtually only three pieces of straight tarmac, has seen the MotoGP machines reach their top speeds in this back straight area, with two key passing points - the final two left-handers.

Like Donington, Sachsenring is made up of low and high speed sections and for this reason the Yamaha YZR-M1 will need to offer agility and a degree of stability too - a difficult combination - although agility takes priority. For 2004 this has become a major strength with the re-born YZR-M1 and should provide each of the four Yamaha pilots an advantage.

Due to the long radius turns, and the low speeds a smoother power delivery is especially useful at such an undulating circuit as much of the driving is done off the left side of the tyre. All this with little camber on offer.

To help the YZR-M1 further in this regard Yamaha will opt for a more linear characteristic from the rear suspension linkage - to suit the needs of the circuit and the flatter torque characteristics likely to be used by the inline-four.

Such a linkage ratio will offer a plusher movement through the first stage of the stroke before gradually increasing in intensity. It will not only improve traction off the turns, allowing the rider to get on the power harder and earlier than before, the new linkage should also reduce the effects of the M1's front wheel pawing for the clouds. This is often an issue for the 240 plus horsepower 145kg machines.

This will be supported with a rear shock set-up that sports a spring rate a little more on the softer side; offering more feel while working the rear tyre less over the bumpy surface.

It is necessary, however, to ensure the swingarm motion is predictable as these setting, combined with the undulating layout and lack of grip, can lead to instability. To prevent this from becoming an issue the shock's damping will be dialled in to compensate, while the front forks will be set to provide the all-round balance. This is possible with the limited amount of hard braking that takes place at the Sachsenring.



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